“I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,” —Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

How does this project work?

We invite you, in celebration of Walt Whitman's 2019 bicentennial birthday, to read his inspiring poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry out loud at your local public library, in a poetry club, in class, or at a panel discussion event you organize at an arts organization. We're sharing the project idea and encouraging you to organize an event or reading in your community. If your reading is open to the public please tell us here and we’ll post it to our calendar and social media pages. And if you take photos or videos of your reading you can post them to Instagram at #whatisitthenbetweenus or #happybirthdaywaltwhitman.

What is it then between us?

We love this question that Whitman asks in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and hope that Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman will provide a forum to consider what it means. We want to encourage a conversation about Walt Whitman and the barbaric yawp he sounded over the rooftops of the world — particularly in regards to our interconnectedness and our American democracy. If you’ve already read Whitman and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, we hope this project will remind you why you love him. For those of you who haven't read this poem we hope the project serves as a fun and engaging way to experience the Bard of Brooklyn, who Harold Bloom called “our imaginative father and mother.” 

When does the project run?

From January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019. Public readings of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry that are scheduled during this time will be included, upon request, on our calendar.

Do I have to live in the U.S. to participate?

No. The project has a U.S. focus, but public readings of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry scheduled outside of the U.S. during 2019 will be included, upon request, on our calendar.

Do I have to read the poem out loud?

Yes, if you want your event to be included on our calendar. Unless you’re intentionally doing a public but silent reading, which could be cool!

Do I have to tell you about my event?

Nope. If you're inspired by what we’re doing but want to keep your reading of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry hush, that’s fine.

Do I have to tell others about your project?

Also nope, but we'd appreciate it if you did — it'll help spread the word! Please share our InstagramFacebook, and website links! And if you’re friendly with poetry journal or blog folks. reading groups, English teachers, or arts organizations who might be interested in our project, please share it with them.

How do I get my event on your calendar?

Fill out the form on our page Post Your Event. 

How Can I share photos and videos of my event?

You can share them at #whatisitthenbetweenus or #happybirthdaywaltwhitman on Instagram. Feel free to share your photos and videos even if they aren’t of public events, such as school or classroom readings.

Do videos posted to your social media pages need to be in english? 

No, the more languages the better! But please let us know what language you're reading in.

What is it with this yawping business?

Yawping is what Whitman does, and barbarically so, from the rooftops of the world. Here's the conclusion of his epic poem Song of Myself, where he yawps this famous line:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.