Contemporary poets read some of their favorite Whitman poems -- and respond with a poem of their own!

By highlighting their relationship to Whitman's work, poets will give audiences a glimpse of the ongoing dialogue with the good gray poet. The program includes Mahogany Browne reading "Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries," Sam Roxas-Chua reading "Miracles," Ramya Ramana reading "There was a child that went forth every day," Ben Purkert reading "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: Section 5," Ladan Osman reading "Song of Myself: Section 32" and Nick Flynn reading "Song of Myself: Section 35."

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Currently, the Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, Browne has received literary fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Roaring Brook/Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) , Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books) and forthcoming Woke: A Young Poet's Guide to Justice (Macmillan). She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Sam Roxas-Chua is the author of Fawn Language, Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater, and Echolalia In Script – A Collection of Asemic Writing. His poems and visual art folios have appeared in various journals including Narrative, december Magazine, Cream City Review and his collection of poems, Diary of Collected Summers, won first place in the 7th Annual Missouri Review Audio Competition in poetry.

Nick Flynn has worked as a ship's captain, an electrician, and as a case-worker with homeless adults. His most recent book is My Feelings (Graywolf, 2015), a collection of poems. In 2019, two new books will appear Stay (Ze Books) a collection of collaborations and writings as well as I Will Destroy You (Graywolf), a collection of poems. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.

Ladan Osman is a Somali-born poet and essayist. She is the author of Exiles of Eden (Coffee House Press, 2019), The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) which won the Sillerman First Book Prize, and the chapbook Ordinary Heaven, which appeared in the box-set Seven New Generation African Poets.  Exiles of Eden, a work of poetry, photos, and experimental text, is forthcoming with Coffee House Press this year.

Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018). His poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He is a contributing editor at Guernica and the founder of Back Draft, an interview series focused on poetry and revision. A former New York Times Fellow at NYU, he currently teaches at Rutgers.

Ramya Ramana is a nationally-acclaimed American poet and author. She made her debut in 2014 at the inauguration of Mayor Bill De Blasio where she was asked to perform an original piece. The New York native went on to perform at over 200 venues in one year as the Youth Poet Laureate of NYC making mentions in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Brown Girl Magazine and more. Ramana released her first manuscript, Don’t Drown Her in the Baptism; the collection of poems explored femininity, faith and race. She recently received her bachelor’s at St. John’s University which she attended on a full-ride with the NY Knicks Poetry Slam. As a first-generation Indian-American, Ramana’s work often illustrates the experience of marginalization and inter-sectionality through a faith-rooted perspective. Ramana’s current endeavors include: working as a teaching artist with Creative Connections, creating an original spoken word album, and songwriting.

Whitman at 200 is made possible with generous support from the Poetry Foundation.

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