Photographs of Walt Whitman’s descendants


Well, this is just plain beautiful.

In ‘Whitman’s Descendants,’ photographing some of America’s greatest living poets – Corinne Segal – PBS Newshour – November 6, 2016

…Photographer B.A. Van Sise — who descended from Whitman’s oldest sister and also his first cousin — has set out to create a portrait of his legacy. “Whitman’s Descendants” is a striking set of portraits documenting the heart of American poetry today, one that bears an urgent connection to Whitman and the issues of his day.

Gregory Pardlo, reading in a sailboat, lets the oars drift alongside him. Anis Mojgani stares at us from darkness. Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s gown pools on a wooden floor. These are the many faces of Whitman’s poetic descendants, their writing and origin stories as diverse as the America that his writing reflected, Van Sise said.

Van Sise’s photographs of the poets are gorgeous and magical. (The one above is by Gregory Pardlo, in response to his poem Epicurious.) I also love that Segal and PBS put up links to most of the poems. (With the exception of one, most likely due to error: “Escape from the Old Country” by Adrienne Su.)

Here’s one by Aimee Nezhukumatathil:

Dear Amy Nehzooukammyatootill,

(a found poem, composed entirely of e-mails from various high school students)
If I were to ask you a question about your book
and sum it up into one word it would be, Why?
I think I like Walt Whitman better than you. I just don’t
get literature, but for a fast hour and a half read, your book

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