Walt Whitman is widely regarded as the father of American poetry. He broke open the genre of poetry by defying the “rules” as set forth by tradition and sought to create a distinctly American poetry with a distinctly American voice and, with what he saw as American Values – of equality and the Democratic ideal. Whitman’s form came to be known as free verse. Poets who have come after Whitman have felt compelled to talk to him in their own verse – expressing their praise or their pique.
The 10th Grade Honors English class did a study of Whitman’s verse, and of his defenders and detractors. They have added their own voices to the mix. Below are some of Whitman’s lines; some recognized poets’ chats with Whitman, and the poems written by the tenth grade honors English class. We hope you enjoy what you find herein.