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  • Whitman and Dickinson
  • Amanda Gailey and Michelle Kohler

The scholarship on Whitman and Dickinson in 2015 had a few common refrains: the poets' responses to the Civil War and to 19th-century scientific understanding, explorations of poetics, early reception, and continued influence on international authors in the 20th and 21st centuries. Amanda Gailey contributed the Whitman portion and Michelle Kohler the Dickinson portion.

i Walt Whitman

a. Whitman's Influence

Several scholars in 2015 focus on Whitman's influence on other writers and thinkers, especially writers from different cultural traditions. Hsinmei Lin ("Songs Yet to Be Sung: Walt Whitman and Taiwan's Yu Kwang-Chung," WWQR 32: 144–50) discusses Whitman's influence on Taiwanese poet Yu Kwang-Chung, who fled from China to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War in 1950. Yu saw in Whitman "the disappointment at unfulfilled democratic visions mixed with an optimism for the coming triumph of true democracy" and in 1954 wrote a tribute poem, "To Whitman," which Lin translates. Stefan Pajović ("Ivo Andrić's Response to Walt Whitman," WWQR 33: 51–60) offers a translation of a 1919 essay on Whitman by Yugoslav Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić, whom Pajović asserts was greatly influenced by Whitman's poetry.

In "A New Errand Bearer: Daisaku Ikeda's Poetic Response to Walt Whitman and His Quest for Peace," pp. 59–61 in Ronald A. Bosco, [End Page 45] Kenneth M. Price, and Sarah Ann Wider, eds., Encountering the Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (Cambridge), Kenneth M. Price studies Whitman's profound influence on Buddhist philosopher and peace activist Daisaku Ikeda, reproducing in its entirety his 1992 poem "Like the Sun Rising." Price compares the profound influence of war upon both poets, as whell as their similar spirit of forgiveness and healing in war's aftermath, both sharing the goal of "democracy that permits common humanity to flourish."

Caterina Bernadini ("The Longest Day: Dino Campana and Walt Whitman Across Italy and South America," WWQR 33: 4–20) examines the influence of Whitman on Italian avant-garde poet Dino Campana, who brought a copy of Leaves of Grass with him on a 1907 trip to South America. Bernadini argues that the poems Campana produced on this trip evidence a Whitmanesque mythopoetic sensibility of America and "can be read as Campana's creative response to Whitman's idea of 'America' as the source of an extra-European newness, freedom, and regeneration." Gary Schmigdall studies the influence among William Blake, Whitman, and Allen Ginsberg, concluding that all three were "exuberantly subversive outliers in the culture and society in which they lived" and that they believed that society and individuals should be "integrated and balanced," particularly in integrating the body with the soul ("Triangulating Blake, Whitman, and Ginsberg," WWQR 32: 131–43).

In "'Women and Poets See the Truth Arrive': Muriel Rukeyser and Walt Whitman" (SAJL 34: 94–116) Dara Barnat argues that Whitman's influence on Jewish American poets—with the exception of Ginsberg—has been largely neglected. She looks at the case of Muriel Rukeyser, who, as a poet invested in Jewish and female identity, seems an unlikely student of Whitman, but who nevertheless found in Whitman expressions of democratic and ethical ideals that resonated with her poetic project of "defin[ing] Jewish identity in America as democratic and pluralistic."

In "Emma Goldman Reading Walt Whitman: Aesthetics, Agitation, and the Anarchist Ideal" (TSLL 57: 80–105) Timothy Robbins argues that Whitman's radical inclusiveness was profoundly influential to the revolutionary vision of Goldman, who drew heavily from Whitman in advancing her ideal of anarchism. Goldman faced criticism from all quarters in her coupling of Whitman and her radical politics, including [End Page 46] Whitman's older followers, who wanted to distance themselves and the image of Whitman from Goldman. Nevertheless, Robbins demonstrates, Goldman "solicited Whitman for her political life's greatest struggles, for freedom of expression, women's emancipation, and sexual liberation, while transforming his poetic celebrations of the human body and collective expansiveness into lived resistance to 'puritanical' state censorship."

In "A Disciple of Whitman and Ruskin: William Harrison Riley, Transatlantic Celebrity, and the Perils of Working-Class Fandom" (CrSurv 27: 63–81) Mark Frost discusses the similar celebrity seer...


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