Troy University’s Writing Center and Sigma Tau Delta (an English honor society) partnered in a marathon reading of “Leaves of Grass,” a poetry compilation by Walt Whitman.
The event was held Thursday, April 6, on the main near Smith Hall starting at 6:30 a.m.
The reading continued throughout the day until all the poems from Whitman’s book were read and finished early afternoon.
Trish Harris, coordinator for the Writing Center, helped to organize the reading and said that a similar event was held while she was a professor in Michigan, and she wanted to have the same thing in Troy.
“We just sat on blankets on the grass and read the poem (from the book), taking turns, handing a book to the next person who joined us, until we were done,” Harris said.
“It ebbs and flows, and I love that.”
Students and members of the community were invited to listen as well as participate by volunteering to read for two- to five-minute segments. Readings were aloud and nonstop.
Copies of the work were available for use; however, participants could bring their own.
“We’ve had about a dozen people here constantly throughout the day, and it was surprising how some English majors had never read Whitman, but now are in love with it,” Harris said.
Katelyn Smith, a sophomore English major from Andalusia, said she decided to stop by in between classes.
“I’ve never read the entire thing but I’ve read some of his poems,” Smith said. “I think this is a really great opportunity to communicate with other students and faculty.”
According to Harris, “Leaves of Grass” is more casual and is “America’s poem.”
“The moment at which a poetry of the individual and the body and a reverence for fellow persons and a love of country all came together in one text,” Harris said in reference to “Leaves of Grass.”
“It is deeply personal but also universal in the ways that the best poetry taps into the recesses of the human spirit and recognizes those recesses and celebrates them, elevates them.”
During the reading of “Leaves of Grass,” Harris said they had a table, chairs, books and “poetry love,” as well as items such as food, buttons and other surprises to be given out to those present.
“I am pleased as the turnout was more than I expected,” Harris said.
This reading and others are expected to become an annual event with English faculty selecting a novel for another marathon reading in October.
According to Harris, the ultimate plan is to read “Leaves of Grass” in the spring and a different novel every year in the fall.