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Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself

Whitman comes alive


Hardcover, $28.95, Tin House Books,

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself

Born in 1819 to Quaker-leaning parents, native New Jerseyan Walt Whitman was a journalist, publisher, teacher, a nurse in the Civil War, a philosopher and poet. Most of all, Whitman was a galaxy-class eccentric. A plain-spoken lover of young men's youth and vigor who lived in a sex-repressed time, this was a guy who thought he could stop bullets with his soul. He eulogized Abraham Lincoln with a short poem about flowers. He was king of the hippies: Whitman was a better self-promoter than Jesus, a better poet than Jerry Garcia and could get to the bottom of a mystery faster than Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

An edition of his work that celebrated the man for who he was was long overdue.

Artist Allen Crawford has produced an illustrated copy of Whitman's sprawling, loafing poem, "Song of Myself," Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself, that does just that. The 50-page poem has been inflated to more than 250 pages with hundreds of humorous, outlandish and celebratory drawings that capture the whimsical essence of "Song."

The hardcover edition is set for release Tuesday, May 13, just in time for the summer birthday of your favorite Whitman fan.