Today My Poetic Side looks at the street named after Audre Lorde, the Walt Whitman films and the poetry recording to help save Reading Gaol.
Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet, Given Her “Way”
30 years after her death Audre Lorde, who described herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, and warrior poet” has been honoured by the city of New York. The intersection of 68th Street and Lexington was renamed on 10th May in a ceremony that took place inside the lobby of Hunter College, where Lorde was once a student and then a teacher.
During the afternoon, there were speeches from the alumni of the school as well as poetry readings from Lorde’s work by a number of current students. The decision to rename the intersection was in part sponsored by Keith Powers, an NYC Councilman who was also a graduate of Hunter College.
The writer Jacqueline Woodson, who says that up to 20 of her own books wouldn’t be in existence if it wasn’t for Lorde, spoke about the publication of her 37th book, which actually coincided with the event.
Films Celebrating Walt Whitman to Premiere in Bolton
Bolton may seem like a rather unusual place to hold a premiere for films celebrating the life of Walt Whitman, an American poet. However, the town has long had something of an enduring fascination with both the man and his work.
At the weekend, the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery presented “Whitman on Walls”, the UK premiere of a series of seven short films. The films are the work of an American-British collaboration and feature over 50 actors from all over the world as well as 40 Bolton locals.
The filming was done over a period of just three weeks. During the showing of each of the films, a local poet will stand nearby and “talk back to Whitman” creating a clever interaction of live poetry and film.
Whitman on Walls (WoW) was devised in 2020, it is a hybrid event that brings together the ideas of film and living poets and has been described by its creator as something of a “drive-in movie meets poetry slam.
The connection with Bolton occurred towards the end of the poet’s life when a close friendship was developed between the poet and a group called the Bolton Whitman Fellowship, The Whitmanites. One of the group sent a birthday Greeting to Whitman and correspondence soon grew between the two parties. The group still celebrate the poet’s birthday, 31st May, and whilst he was still alive some of them even travel to the US to visit him. There are seven different plaques placed across the local area of Bolton and the surrounding towns depicting lines from Whitman’s poetry.
Liam Neeson Recites Oscar Wilde Poem to Help Save Reading Gaol
The actor Liam Neeson has joined the increasing number of celebrities who are campaigning to help turn Reading Gaol into an Arts and Culture Centre and save it from redevelopment.
In a recently released video, the actor is one of 5 voices that can be heard reciting the “Ballad of Reading Gaol”.
Oscar Wilde spent time in the gaol when he was imprisoned because of his sexuality. He was released 125 years ago, and the release of the recording marks the occasion.