Zaniah Bell, DaCorian Campbell, Zykiria Slaton, Hayden Hocutt, Mya Skeete, Tyland Tarver, Christian Campbell, Lamar Moore

Verse:

21

Reader:

Zaniah Bell, DaCorian Campbell, Zykiria Slaton, Hayden Hocutt, Mya Skeete, Tyland Tarver, Christian Campbell, Lamar Moore

Location:

Birmingham

Verse 21

I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, 
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, 
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue. 
 
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, 
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, 
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. 
 
I chant the chant of dilation or pride, 
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough, 
I show that size is only development. 
 
Have you outstript the rest? are you the President? 
It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on. 
 
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night, 
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night. 
 
Press close bare-bosom’d night—press close magnetic nourishing night! 
Night of south winds—night of the large few stars! 
Still nodding night—mad naked summer night. 
 
Smile O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth! 
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! 
Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt! 
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue! 
Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river! 
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake! 
Far-swooping elbow’d earth—rich apple-blossom’d earth! 
Smile, for your lover comes. 
 
Prodigal, you have given me love—therefore I to you give love! 
O unspeakable passionate love. 
Textual Analysis
There are several places in Whitman's notebooks from the early 1850s where we can see the original stirrings of "Song of Myself." One particularly evocative place is in the so-called Talbot Wilson notebook, where Whitman hesitatingly inscribes a whole new kind of speaking. Breaking into the kind of free-verse lines in ...
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Textual Analysis

FILMMAKER’S NOTES

We met all eight of them—Zaniah, DaCorian, Zykiria, Hayden, Mya, Tyland, Christian and Lamar— in downtown Birmingham. Somewhere by 16th and 1st Avenue North.  All of them are part of The Creative Minds Dance Crew. Muriel Tarver, the manager of the group, and Tyland’s mother, helped us find a location where they would feel comfortable, and natural, being and dancing in — it was a little area where kids go to skate. And on this day, read poetry and dance.

Before we started filming they all had their own headphones on, so they could listen to their own music, and they started dancing. Personally, about 110% of the time, I’m super shy about dancing in front of anyone other than no-one, so I learned a lot from seeing these guys just go at it. They were in their own worlds expressing themselves, for themselves. Publicly. It’s a way of being, and a form of expression, that I think is rare. Or usually only happens in isolated situations meant for dance. But it’s just what these guys do. You can tell it's a huge part of who they are every second of the day.

After some time we mic-ed them up and started to film the readings, one person after another. (We didn’t get to film Christian or Lamar reading because it started to get too dark. It still upsets me to this day, but we did get to film all of them dancing.) We asked each of the readers to just recite the verse in their own voice, no need to sound like a “poet.” They were all so good, and in the end clearly didn't need the encouragement to "just be themselves." They each embodied who they were, and the verse, so specifically — it was empowering to witness. Someimes I think people, or maybe I should just say "I," get lost in trying to be something other than what I am. Even acidentally. Watching these guys was a great reminder to just be. Shake off the rest.

If I'm lucky I'll cross paths with each of these guys again sometime down the road...

by filmmaker Jenn Crandall as told to writer Liz Hildreth