“Visiting Walt is a vivid reminder that poetry is nothing less than the greatest conversation ever held. No poet spoke more ardently to the future than Whitman, and here, he is answered by a democratic chorus of his descendents—a hundred of his children talking back to their looming, inescapable, fathomless father.”—Billy Collins
Poets to Come! . . .
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.
—Walt Whitman, “Poets to Come”
Consider him sensational, mystical, erotic, and expansive; consider him the good gray poet, the moral crusader, the prophet of Democracy and the enemy of social injustice; or consider him libertarian, unsavory, and controversial. However we may view Walt Whitman, there is no denying his genius. Has there ever been a poet—before or after—so central, so vital to the heartbeat and life of American, and world, poetry?
Answering the challenge that Whitman issued nearly a hundred and fifty years ago in “Poets to Come,” Sheila Coghill and Thom Tammaro have gathered one hundred poems by one hundred poets bearing witness to Whitman's great inheritance. Poets as diverse as Sherman Alexie, Sharon Olds, Langston Hughes, Anne Waldman, Pablo Neruda, and Erica Jong fill the pages of Visiting Walt: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Walt Whitman and, in true Whitman tradition, form a democratic chorus of celebration and homage to the undeniable resonance of the poet's spirit.
Visiting Walt is a reminder and renewal, at the dawn of a new millennium, of the centrality of Whitman's influence on American and global literature. As Ed Folsom poignantly remarks in his foreword, “Here are a hundred poems that read Whitman's poems in a hundred different ways, that remake Whitman again and again, that answer what he is for.”
Jorge Louis Borges
and many more