The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa recently launched Whitman Web, a multimedia web gallery featuring Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself in 52 weekly installments, alongside translations in eight other languages (Chinese, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian), as well as photographs, commentary, discussion questions, and recordings.
Each installment of the poem will be accompanied by commentaries from distinguished Whitman scholar and University of Iowa professor Ed Folsom, who co-directs the Walt Whitman Archive, and poet, writer, and translator Christopher Merrill, director of the IWP. These commentaries, designed to orient, inspire, and challenge readers, will be translated into Persian and Russian, with translations into Chinese and other languages forthcoming. Whitman Web plans to further enhance the website with additional translations of the poem and commentaries as they become available.
Readers will also be able to listen to a new section of the poem read aloud each week in English by University of Iowa professor of acting Eric Forsythe, and in Persian by the poem’s co-translator, Iran-born Los-Angeles-based poet Sholeh Wolpe.
Photographs from the vast Walt Whitman Archive will trace Whitman through his adulthood so that, by the end of the poem, readers will see him in old age. Weekly discussion questions will be distributed via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks.