Live oak, with moss

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892

Book - 2019

As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled "Live Oak, With Moss." The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction to and affection for other men. They were also Whitman's most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love, composed decades before the word "homosexual" came into use. Whitman never published the cycle. Instead he cut them up, rearranged them, and hid them in the "Calamus" ...cluster of poems in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Selznick has been greatly influenced by Whitman and has created more than 100 pages of original images that form a visual narrative around his work which provide a stirring interpretation.This transporting tour de force presents Whitman like never before and will be beloved by Selznick's myriad fans as well as poetry lovers everywhere. An afterword by Professor Karen Karbiener illuminates the story of Whitman's enigmatic cluster of poems, provides keys for interpreting their meanings, and highlights their contemporary significance"--

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Subjects
Genres
Gay poetry
Erotic poetry
Poetry
Illustrated works
Literary criticism
Published
New York : Abrams ComicArts [2019]
Language
English
Item Description
Poems.
Physical Description
167 pages, 25 unnumbered pages : illustrations (some color), facsimiles ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781419734052
1419734059
Main Author
Walt Whitman, 1819-1892 (-)
Other Authors
Brian Selznick (illustrator), Karen Karbiener, 1965- (writer of afterword)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Whitman originally collected these 12 romantic, homoerotic poems into a secret handmade book in the 1850s, and they are now brought gracefully to life courtesy of children's book author and illustrator Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret). Selznick writes at the outset that his drawings "are not meant to be illustrations of the poems but a framework, or a lens, through which they can be discovered." The volume is presented in three sections. First, Selznick's vibrantly colored drawings are standalone, forming their own silent narrative of desire and fulfillment. Selznick expertly captures the intensity of Whitman's work, sensually rendering his phallic oak trees, adding collages of the cityscape of New Orleans (where Whitman explored his sexual preferences with more freedom), and dreamy cosmic imagery. In a clever touch, the drawn chronicle eventually fades into white as a lead-in to the second section, in which Whitman's poems appear in their original form. Karbiener's afterword closes out the book, with a compact history and contextualization of Whitman's work. In harmony, the art, the poems, and the analysis all honor while illuminating Whitman's work and make it more accessible to contemporary readers. (Apr.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled "Live Oak, With Moss." The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction to and affection for other men. They were also Whitman's most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love, composed decades before the word "homosexual" came into use. Whitman never published the cycle. Instead he cut them up, rearranged them, and hid them in the "Calamus" cluster of poems in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Selznick has been greatly influenced by Whitman and has created more than 100 pages of original images that form a visual narrative around his work which provide a stirring interpretation.This transporting tour de force presents Whitman like never before and will be beloved by Selznick's myriad fans as well as poetry lovers everywhere. An afterword by Professor Karen Karbiener illuminates the story of Whitman's enigmatic cluster of poems, provides keys for interpreting their meanings, and highlights their contemporary significance"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled 'Live Oak, With Moss.' The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction to and affection for other men. They were also Whitman's most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love, composed decades before the word 'homosexual' came into use. This revolutionary, extraordinarily beautiful and passionate cluster of poems was never published by Whitman and has remained unknown to the general public'until now. New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Award'winning illustrator Brian Selznick offers a provocative visual narrative of 'Live Oak, With Moss," and Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener reconstructs the story of the poetic cluster's creation and destruction. Walt Whitman's reassembled, reinterpreted Live Oak, With Moss serves as a source of inspiration and a cause for celebration.   

Review by Publisher Summary 3

As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled “Live Oak, With Moss.” The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction to and affection for other men. They were also Whitman’s most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love, composed decades before the word “homosexual” came into use. This revolutionary, extraordinarily beautiful and passionate cluster of poems was never published by Whitman and has remained unknown to the general public—until now. New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Award–winning illustrator Brian Selznick offers a provocative visual narrative of “Live Oak, With Moss,” and Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener reconstructs the story of the poetic cluster’s creation and destruction. Walt Whitman’s reassembled, reinterpreted Live Oak, With Moss serves as a source of inspiration and a cause for celebration.