Our 2019 Bicentennial Calendar includes historic and literary programs to celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday!

2019 Whitman Bicentennial Celebration Year Highlights

Three multi-day conferences/festivals

Multiple poetry events

Four community collaborations

Five “Distinguished Speaker” lectures, comprised of Whitman scholars

Whitman Family Reunion & Oral History Project

Three Whitman-related exhibitions

Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture

Banners in Huntington Township

Proposal to US Stamp Advisory Committee for 2019 issue of Whitman Postage Stamp


Multi-Day Conferences

April 6-7, 2019

2019 WWBA Poet-in-Residence Weekend

April 6:  Nationally acclaimed Poet-in-Residence conducts Poetry Writing Workshop, and offers evening reading. Open to the public

        April 7:  Poet-in-Residence officiates annual student poetry writing Awards Ceremony, honoring 100 winners. 2019 contest theme is “Birthplaces”

May 31 – June 2, 2019  

Whitman Bicentennial Birthday Weekend Celebration

May 31:

  • Whitman scholars David Reynolds & Jerome Loving offer panel presentation 10:30 am – 12 pm
  • Collaboration for the Final Session of “Whitman International Week” held at Birthplace. Group of Scholars attending week-long conference at NYU, and coming to Birthplace on their final day to tour historic site: 1 – 4 pm
  •  Afternoon activities include poets’ corner, Whitman-era music and crafts: noon – 5 pm
  • Join fellow Whitman enthusiasts for a “Happy Birthday Hour” at 5 – 6 pm, and toast Walt in honor of his 200th birthday
  •  Compagnia de’ Colombari, a theatre troupe, presents an evening theatrical musical production of Whitman’s words “More Or Less I Am.” Troupe is comprised of 8 actor/singers and 4 musicians and will circulate in Town of Huntington Friday afternoon reciting poetry in open spaces as prelude to evening performance (7:30 – 8:30 pm)
  • Closing Whitman revelries (9 pm)

June 1:

  • High School students attend writing workshop and offer presentation of their poetry
  • Collaboration with local poetry writing group, “Bard’s Initiative,” whose members stage a marathon reading of Leaves of Grass in front of Birthplace

June 2:

  • Musical Presentation and Whitman-era music
  • High School students stage mini-poetry scenes throughout day
  • Docents become historic figures in costume and circulate with visitors
  • Time Capsule unveiling

August 9-11, 2019

Inaugural International Whitman Festival: Cultural Arts Celebration

       August 9: Convening of international presenters/collaboration with “Bolton Whitmanites,” group from Bolton, England

  • Afternoon panel presentations (TBA)
  • Student Poetry Writing workshop
  • Evening Musical Performance (TBA)

August 10:

Whitman at 200: Scholar Speaker Series presents Whitman Scholar Ed Folsom, Keynote Speaker

  • Panel Presentations (TBA)
  • Evening theatrical performance (TBA)

August 11:

  • Panel Presentations (TBA)
  • Student Poetry Presentations


Poetry Events

Walking With Whitman: Poetry in Performance series, celebrating its 9th year. Six national poets offer Friday night readings, along with Q & A, and book signings. Event includes an Open Mic for the community, and a live musical interlude (Poets & dates TBA)

Poetry Out Loud, Collaboration with Poetry Society of America (PSA). WWBA hosts PSAs regional competition of their annual Poetry Out Loud national high school poetry recitation contest. Forty regional finalists compete to become regional champions to progress to national championship competition in Washington, DC (February 2019)

Story Slam: I Hear America Singing, community open mic contest (March & September 2019)

Karen de Mauro’s Performing Poetry 3-workshop series (April 2019)



April is Poetry Month 2019: Whitman at 200: Distinguished Speakers series

June 2019. Whitman at 200: Distinguished Speakers presents Whitman Researcher Zachary Turpin, discoverer of new Whitman writings, including a serial newspaper novel and a book on “Manly Health”

September 2019: Whitman at 200: Distinguished Speakers presents former Congressman Steve Israel on Whitman as the Poet of Democracy


Whitman Family Reunion & Oral History Project

Descendants of Walt Whitman invited to participate in an oral history project (July 2019)


Gathering House Exhibitions

January – March         

“Commercial Whitman”

An exhibition of commercial artifacts of items that used images and the namesake of Walt Whitman on their labels or advertisements, dating from 1920 – present. From the personal collection of Birthplace member Ed Centeno.


April – July     

Photography Exhibition of WWBA Poets in Residence    

Photography by B.A. Van Sise, professional photographer and fifth-generation descendant of Walt Whitman. Poets were photographed as an extension of their poetry. Van Sise offers 15 interpretive portraits of notable American poets who have presided at the Birthplace, displayed alongside their poetry.


July – October    

WWBA Archive Exhibit       

An exhibition of books and artifacts from the private collection of the Whitman Association, to include Whitman family quilts, books signed by Whitman, the Whitman Family Bible, historic photographs, deeds, and documents.


October – December

Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture      

Lecture offered by Barbara Bair, MA, PhD, Specialist in Literature in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress who oversees the three main Whitman collections.  She will showcase facsimile items from the Whitman collection along with their historical narratives.


Check out the Walt Whitman Initiative’s International Whitman Week (May 27 – June 1, 2019)! 

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