About Us

“The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day.” —Crossing Brooklyn Ferry


We are a small group of New York City-based Whitman fans. The seeds of this project were planted almost ten years ago as an idea for a book about Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. In the process of developing the book the idea grew into this public reading of the poem.

Stefan Killen

I came to Walt Whitman and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry while taking a series of pinhole photographs of New York City ferries. I quickly envisioned an interdisciplinary trade book that combined the poem, a series of my pinhole photos, and a group of essays by scholars and artists speaking back to Whitman. The book developed slowly over the course of ten years and is now due to be published in time for Whitman's birthday on May 31, 2019.

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I've been taking pinhole photographs for close to 30 years, using cardboard box cameras designed to use 120 mm film. My photographs have been exhibited at the Alan Klotz Gallery in New York and in group shows juried by Larry Gagosian, Molly Barnes, and Eric Renner and are in private collections around the world. I recently collaborated with The Brooklyn Academy of Music on a series of pinhole portraits of the staff and creative directors of Crossing, an opera by Matthew Aucoin based on Whitman’s Civil War writings. My photos have been published in Blur magazine, Pinhole Journal, United’s Hemispheres magazine, Out of Focus: Pinhole Cameras and Pinhole Photography, and The f/D Book of Pinhole. I post my photographs to my website Pinhole New York, as well as on social media pages I maintain on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Flickr. My photos have been featured on such art and culture blogs as Opening Ceremony.com, Lomography.com, and Don’tTakePictures.com, as well as on the sets of such tv shows as Girls, The Following, American Odyssey, Power, Royal Pains, Creed, and Billions. I grew up in Zurich, Switzerland and studied at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. In addition to my photography work, I run Red+Company, a design studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn near where Brooklyn Ferry once landed and across the street from one of the addresses Walt Whitman lived at as a young child.

I am indebted for this project to Greg Trupiano of The Walt Whitman Project, without whom crucial connections would not have been made, enthusiasm would have lagged, and inspiration would have been the poorer. Thank you Greg! I am equally indebted to Karen Karbiener and her colleagues at The Walt Whitman Initiative, who likewise supported me in this undertaking and invited me to join her and over 50 other groups celebrating the Whitman bicentennial as part of the The Whitman 2019 Consortium. Thank you, Karen!


The Walt Whitman Project

The Walt Whitman Project, a Brooklyn-based community arts organization founded in 2000 by Greg Trupiano, is devoted to exploring the life and influence of this great American writer through readings of his poetry and prose and performances of musical compositions based on his works. The Project has co-sponsored Whitman events with American Opera Projects, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Pace University, Brooklyn Heights Public Library, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington, St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn Historical Society, South Street Sea- port Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. Greg is the Director of Artistic Administration at the Sarasota Opera in Sarasota, Florida.

The Walt Whitman Initiative

The Walt Whitman Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to America’s Poet through Whitman-related events and activities in and around Manhattan. Karen Karbiener, PhD, one of the Initiative’s founders, is a Whitman scholar at New York University. She has published widely on Whitman’s life and work, and edited Leaves of Grass: First and “Death-Bed” Editions for Barnes & Noble Classics. She is a recognized public scholar and has been featured in radio, television, and online programs, authored two audiobooks on Whitman’s cultural legacy, and hosts New York City’s annual “Song of Myself” Marathon in Brooklyn Bridge Park. As part of Whitman’s bicentennial the Initiative organized The Whitman 2019 Consortium, a collective of east coast organizations, institutions, venues, and individuals planning events in celebration of the poet’s 200th birthday. The Co-Directors of the Consortium are Karen Karbiener and Susan Tane, the curators of the forthcoming Grolier Club exhibition Poet of the Body: New York’s Walt Whitman (May 15- July 27, 2019).