Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Walt Whitman And Free Verse Autobiography

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By Christopher West

One of the best examples of an individual whom has written a memoir in a poetic style is that of Walt Whitman. For, Whitman tells his life store in the piece "Songs of Myself, " a Free Verse Autobiography which the author edited and revised many times over during the course of life. While a stand alone piece, the piece was also included in the popular collection, "Leaves of Grass."

Before Facebook, poets like Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and others authored poems which were extremely dark. Whereas, Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac often discussed sexual and other taboos in various pieces. Whereas, in the time of Walt Whitman, writings were often based more on personal life experience and the unknown.

Whitman, a well known author and poet passed away in March of 1892. After which, the writer continued to revise and expand "Songs of Myself" from the time it was published in 1855 until a final version was published in 1881. The book, later re-titled "Poem of Walt Whitman, an American, " reflects the life story of the author.

Whitman helped create the idea of self-publishing as the writer was the first to experience self-realization and evolution by paying for the design and typesetting of the book. As with other poets, the opening portrait shows a casual Walt with an open collar and wearing a hat that is cocked to one side. The portrait does a good job of showing the casually defiant poet which continues to dominate the market when it comes to American memoirs.

Generally, those working in free verse will want to share the piece at a poetry festival or reading. Whereas, those whom put more theatrics into a piece may want to enter a local slam as there are often cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place poems.

One of the best ways to experience different styles of readers and writings is to visit a local reading. Whether attending a book or poetry reading, the experience can often be an insightful one. For, not only will one most likely to get to meet and talk with the poets and writers, there is also a lot that can be learned in doing so.

While there are local readings, there are also International poetry festivals where individuals come from around the world to read and attend workshops. One of the largest is that of the Austin International Poetry Festival which takes place in Austin each April. As such, those interested in learning more about the different styles can often benefit greatly from attending this type festival.

While free verse can be delightful in autobiographies and story telling, slams are far more competitive and theatrical. As such, for poets whom merely want to share rhyme or free verse with others, attending an open-mic or becoming a featured reader at local venue is often a good idea. Whereas, those looking to compete, perform and potentially win a prize may want to check out a local poetry slam.

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