To Our Friends & Comrades in Bolton, Lancashire, England   3 comments

Michael Robertson – image by kenne

Like good wine, good poets get better with age — therefore, so too does the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council (MALAC) annual birthday celebration of America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman. However, our event in Conroe, Texas, is but a baby when compared to the annual birthday celebration the people of Bolton, Lancashire, England have conducted since the 1870’s. Dare I say, Whitman may also be England’s greatest poet. If not, the people of Bolton are the true disciples of Walt.

As already noted in a previous posting, titled Worshipping Walt Whitman, our guest lecturer for the afternoon session on the campus of Lone Star College – Montgomery, was previous guest, Michael Robertson, author of the recent publication, Worshipping Walt – The Whitman Disciples. As part of his presentation, Michael set the stage for the Conroe event to give homage to our friends and comrades in Bolton. “The Lancashire Whitman celebration is unique, a product of the English fondness for the outdoors, intense interest in local traditions, the continuity of a democratic socialist tradition, and an openness to Whitman’s prophetic dimensions,” writes Robertson.

Worshipping Whitman brings to mind Emile Durkheim’s dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, which captures the universality of Whitman’s very being. No wonder he is revered by so many. But as Robertson writes, “More than any other poet, I think, Whitman evokes not just admiration but love. The disciples felt that love in the Leaves, they sought it from the man, and although things did not always turn out as they expected, none of them was entirely disappointed.”


3 responses to “To Our Friends & Comrades in Bolton, Lancashire, England

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  1. Comrades in Conroe

    Thank you so much for the glimpse into your Whitman celebarations. It was very good to see Michael again and I hope he has persuaded some of you that Bolton may be worth a visit should you find yourselves in England.

    I have just been completing the preparations for our walk this Saturday. to celebrate Walt’s birthday. We are meeting at the Socialist Club in town at 1200 and I will be trying to play your greetings before we leave for Barrow Bridge.

    The weather forecast is not too promising, but then it will be the company that makes the afternoon. We will head for Walker Fold and Coal Pit Road and hope to finish in Brian Hey’s Tea Room (although this is only open to us as a special favour since the proprietress has not been well – she thinks of us as the people with the ‘twigs’, actually the lilac sprigs that Michael spoke about).

    I said in a message to Michael earleir today that this growing network of links between America and ourselves is something to be nurtured.

    Thanks agan for the message – best wishes from Bolton


  2. Michael was very helpful in giving us an even better appreciation for your annual celebration. Several of us have expressed a desire to someday attend your celebration — who knows, maybe next year.

    Hope the weather cooperates!


  3. I have put Bolton on my calendar for next year!


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