Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition
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I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

From “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass (1855)

How did a carpenter’s son, grammar school dropout and sometime hack writer become America’s greatest poet? To commemorate Whitman’s 200th birthday on May 31, 2019, this landmark exhibition showcases New York's role in the extraordinary transformation of Walter Whitman Jr. to “Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son.” On public view at the Grolier Club from May 15 to July 27, 2019, the exhibition brings together over 200 extraordinary books, manuscripts, photographs, and other objects to show how this obscure young New Yorker transformed himself into one of America’s great artists, the Poet of the Body: New York’s Walt Whitman.
A celebration of Whitman's enduring relationship with the metropolis that sired and inspired him, the exhibition is curated by collector Ms. Tane and Dr. Karen Karbiener, NYU professor and internationally recognized Whitman scholar. More information can be found at

Poet of the Body: New York’s Walt Whitman (Grolier Club, 2019), a book based on the exhibition with text by Ms. Tane and Dr. Karbiener, is available from Oak Knoll Books (
A commemorative three and one-half inch bronze medallion honoring Whitman’s 200th birthday has been specially commissioned from sculptor Marc Mellon. For information and to order, please contact Maev Brennan:


FREE EXHIBITION TOURS: Free guided tours of the exhibition, led by curators Susan Tane and Karen Karbiener, will be held on Wednesday, May 15, from 12 to 1 pm; Wednesday, May 22, from 11 am to 12 noon.; and Thursday, May 30, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. No reservations required.

• Wednesday, May 22, 12:00-1:00 pm – “Printing Walt Whitman’s Faces,” lecture by Barbara Henry, Harsimum Press.
• Thursday, May 30, 5:30-6:30 pm – “ ‘This is the city, and I am one of the citizens’: Walt Whitman, The Body, and the City,” lecture by Ed Folsom, University of Iowa.
• Tuesday, June 18, 12:00-1:00 pm – “I Sing the Exhibition Digital,” presentation by Jesse Merandy and the Bard Grad Center’s Digital Media Lab.
• Thursday, June 20, 5:30-6:30 pm – “A Year in the Basement with Walt Whitman,” presentation by Allen Crawford, illustrator.
• Tuesday, July 23, 5:30-6:30 pm – “Whitman’s Live Oak, with Moss,” multimedia presentation by Brian Selznick and Karen Karbiener.

Saturday, June 1, from 9 am to 5 pm
Twelve internationally acclaimed scholars will deliver presentations on the theme of “Walt Whitman and New York,” including one Pecha Kucha session; the Dessoff Choirs will perform a selection of Whitman song settings; and Whitman scholars Betsy Erkkila and Kenneth Price will deliver keynote lectures. Admission is free, but reservations are required by e-mailing

WHITMAN 2019 CONSORTIUM: Curators Susan Tane and Karen Karbiener are also co-Directors of the Consortium, a global collective of more than 70 institutions, organizations, venues and individuals celebrating Whitman’s 200th birthday next year. For more information on events, a print copy of the publication and schedule is available at the Grolier Club; or visit:

Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition
Thursday, May 16, 2019
"'Poet of the Body': New York's Walt Whitman". The exhibition runs through July 27, 2019.
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