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In Episode 35 of Flatbush + Main, we celebrate the 200th birthday of Brooklyn's bard, Walt Whitman. Whitman was a journalist, a poet, a lover, a wanderer, and a Brooklynite. We consider his experiences walking Brooklyn's streets and the inspiration he drew from the places and people he encountered.

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Episode Transcript


02:28 Histories and Ideas
13:16 Into the Archives
27:00 Voices of Brooklyn

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

For our first segment, Zaheer and Julie partnered with our friends at BackStory.  They talked with historian and BackStory cohost Joanne Freeman about Walt Whitman the Brooklynite, and the places and forces that shaped his life. You can listen to BackStory’s full episode on Walt Whitman here.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Walt Whitman kept over 100 journals, which are now held at the Library of Congress. Inside of these commonplace books, Whitman recorded diary entries, drafts, literary notes, names and addresses, sketches and drawings, and trial titles. Among the entries, Whitman would also list the names of the men he met and had romantic attachments with along Brooklyn’s waterfront. In this segment, Zaheer and Julie discuss the significance of these entries, and what we can learn about the Brooklyn stomping grounds that defined Whitman’s personal and professional life.

You can learn more about the Walt Whitman collections held at the Library of Congress here, and explore digitized images of the journals here.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer listen to clips from the oral history of poet Suheir Hammad, from BHS’s Muslims in Brooklyn oral history collection.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Zaheer endorsed “The Tea on Brooklyn’s Prismatic LGBTQ Nightlife,” a public program at BHS’s Pierrepont St. headquarters on Monday, June 24, 2019 at 6:30pm. Brooklyn has been home to LGBTQ gatherings for decades. The program will feature clips from We Came to Sweat, the documentary on the storied Starlite Lounge that was home to a queer black community Crown Heights, and a panel featuring Calvin Clark of the former Club Langston; curator, writer, and social activist Kimberly Drew; Mohammed Fayaz of the queer POC dance party collective Papi Juice; and Ryann Holmes of the collective Bklyn Boihood. Tickets are $10 and $5 for members; reserve them here.

Julie endorsed “Getting the History of HIV/AIDS Right,” a public program at BHS’s Pierrepont St. headquarters on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 6:30pm. The program will feature University of Illinois at Chicago professor Jennifer Brier, author of Infectious Ideas: U,S. Political Response to the AIDS Crisis, in conversation with Northwestern University professor and journalist Steven Thrasher, whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and Esquire. Brier and thrasher will debunk historical myths about HIV/AIDS in America and push the audience to reconsider why particular narratives about the disease persist to this day. The conversation will touch on gender, race, sexuality, political and social history, and the tension between complacency and urgency today. This program is presented in connection with the exhibition, Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health, which opened on May 31. Tickets are $10 and $5 for members; reserve them here.

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