ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT
Walt Whitman created a persona and his poems were performative (he famously titled one of them “Song of Myself”) to the extent that they were more personal, more about himself– drawing attention to himself– than those of any poet or writer before him. A forerunner of, and inspiration for, the Beats, Whitman was a famous and public figure, whether writing eulogies for Presidents, being one of the first (supposedly) to read a poem for a phonograph recording, and having a public funeral attended by thousands of mourners. The first American literary rock star? Possibly so.
(Photo of Walt Whitman’s funeral procession.)
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