21 October 2015

'Walt Whitman: The Commercialization of an American Icon' by Ed Centeno

On seeing my blog post here following my visit to Walt Whitman's birthplace in Huntington Station, Long Island last year, Ed Centeno emailed me last month with several examples of his very large collection of Whitman memorabilia. I could see a good opportunity for another post, and here I include a number of images from Ed's collection which he very kindly sent me. I leave the images to speak for themselves as most of them are largely self-explanatory, although I should add that the pictures of the house are in Camden, N. J., where Whitman lived for a number of years until his death in 1892. I've yet to go to Camden, and Ed's photos toward the end of this selection show Whitman's grave in the local cemetery. I now leave all the talking to Ed:
'My 27 years with Walt have been and continue to be rewarding, challenging, and inspiring. My intention has always been to exhibit rather than write or lecture about my Walt Whitman Collection. When devotion and passion are given to something you truly enjoy, it’s inevitable that audiences will be curious to see what you collect and interested in learning why you collect. 

'The primary focus of the collection is the commercialization of Whitman’s name, image, and body of works in memorabilia, ephemeral material, commercial products, fine art, and digital format. My reason for this madness is to enrich my knowledge of the past, preserve the aspect of collecting for future generations, and acquaint myself with the phenomenon of Whitman’s popularity.

'This fascination humbly began while I was researching material for an article about American poets on stamps. To my astonishment along the way I learned that the Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey, was only several miles from where I lived as a teenager. I soon discovered that Walt has been depicted on advertising for cigars (ironically he never smoked), coffee, beer (he also never drank), insurance, and the list goes on and on! There are also places named after him—the Walt Whitman bridge, high schools, a shopping mall, parks, apartment building, bookstores, just to name a few.'





'To see more of my collection, learn about upcoming Whitman events, and read more about his poetry, please visit the following links:

http://www.waltwhitman.org/ (Walt Whitman Birthplace)

http://www.whitmanarchive.org/ (Walt Whitman website)

http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/whitman/ (Library of Congress Archives)

Centeno_005@hotmail.com (my personal email)

songofmyselfmarathon@gmail.com (12th annual marathon reading “Song of Myself”)'

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