Happy birthday, Walt Whitman, and happy birthday, Bibliovoyeur.com

 

Last weekend I was riding in a subway car, discretely and somewhat desperately trying to catch a glimpse at the book being read by one of my fellow strap-hangers.  I never got a glimpse of the book, and I never managed to work up the courage to ask the reader about his hefty paperback (it was NY City, after all), but I did get rather excited about the prospect of coining a new word — biblioyeur — to describe the mild obsession that I (and I’m sure others … right?) have in trying to identify what is being read by others in public spaces.  And then, I got rather more excited about the prospect of collecting this information in some way, and sharing it with others.  And then I realized I had no idea how to pronounce “biblioyeur.”  And then a friend used “blog” and “literary” in the same sentence, and a few feverish hours later this new blog entered the world.

It’s brand new, and still covered with the goo associated with the birthing process.  So bear with me while I clean it up and put on a fresh nappy.  In the meantime, bear in mind that this blog’s birthday shares an auspicious date — Walt Whitman was born on this date in 1819.   So on this date, almost two centuries ago, Whitman entered the world, covered in goo, and then went on (after many years and presumably several nappies) to create poetry that influenced American literature forever after.

At least this is what I’ve heard; Leaves of Grass has been sitting on my nightstand untouched for a couple months now — sorry, Walt.  According to The Writer’s Almanac, Leaves of Grass  received many excellent reviews — many of which Whitman wrote himself, anonymously.  I suppose he, being as familiar as he was with the work, was in the best position to judge his poetry.   I should also note that Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass on his own dime, binding volumes as his finances permitted.  Had he been born only a couple hundred years later, he could have just blogged it.

walt-whitman

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