Archive for the ‘Worshipping Walt’ Tag

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.”


Worshipping Walt Whitman   1 comment

Michael Robertson Image by kenne

“Conroe, Texas, does not seem, at first glance, a promising spot for poetry,” writes Michael Robertson in his 2008 book, “Worshipping Walt – The Whitman Disciples.” Robertson first experienced our annual celebration of Walt Whitman’s birthday in May 2005.

“ Parsons [Dave] kicked off the 2005 Whitman birthday celebration by inviting members from the audience to come up and read Whitman poems that matter to them,” Robertson continues on. “They had come to otherwise deserted downtown Conroe on a weeknight, not for aesthetic pleasure – or not only for that – but for the chance to testify to this poetry’s meaning in their lives.”

Robertson returned again for the celebration in 2007 and will be making his third appearance on May 20th, 3:00 p.m., in the Lone Star College – Montgomery library. Later in the evening (7:00 p.m.), he will participate in the “Gathering of Poets” reading Whitman poetry at the Corner Pub in downtown Conroe. For those of us who have been a part of the “Writers in Performance Series” and the annual Whitman celebration, and as the Montgomery County disciples of Whitman, it is an honor to be recognized by noted Whitman expert Michael Robertson.

We encourage all to come worship with us on May 20th. You will find that nobody will talk about Whitman as a spiritual leader, but as Robertson wrote, “ . . . that all expressed a deep personal connection to his poetry.”


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