‘Leaves of Grass’ marathon planned to celebrate poet Whitman

“Leaves of Grass’’ by Walt Whitman was legally banned in Boston in the 1880s for its sexual content.
“Leaves of Grass’’ by Walt Whitman was legally banned in Boston in the 1880s for its sexual content. –Flickr / Ali Eminov

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts is celebrating the upcoming 200th anniversary of poet Walt Whitman’s birth with a marathon cover-to-cover reading of his masterpiece “Leaves of Grass.”

The reading is scheduled for Saturday at the Salem Athenaeum.

The event is being organized by Sue Weaver Schopf, a Salem resident and Harvard Extension School teacher.

The organization says the publication of “Leaves of Grass” in 1855 “heralded the arrival of a genuinely American voice in poetry and would eventually be seen as the forerunner of American Modernist expression with its expansive free verse lines and courageous themes.”

Schopf says the reading should take between four and five hours.

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The event is free and open to all, whether they want to contribute a verse or just listen.

Whitman was born May 31, 1819.