Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Bughouse Square Debates is public domain. You can come and scream your head off if you want (see the following post for details). This year things will begin with three Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Finalists reciting from memory “I Sing the Body Electric” by Walt Whitman. The poem was part of his lifework Leaves of Grass, once in Boston deemed obscene literature and pressured for censorship. But Whitman being Whitman refused to think of it under any circumstance. And the rest of course is history. Now the poem is by law in the public domain and free at a click. How would Whitman have loved the Internet?

What I can answer is that the poem is the first I loved, as a circulation assistant (page, as we were called and called pulling books from the closed, cold stacks) in the General Reading Room of the Newberry Library. We called ourselves Space Monkeys. This is where I had my best education, serving book after book alongside a team of the best finger-licking good friends I could hope for. While the genealogists dug in lineage, we tapped another in the mine of the library. And in afternoons in Washington Square Park. And hours after hours in the Zebra Lounge down the street. And still sometimes as old friends.

So this is my electric invitation to my old colleagues from the GRR. To my fellow Space Monkeys. I hope somehow they find themselves through this blog and join us for this year’s Bughouse Square Debates. This means you: Julie Lynch, Elizabeth Aubrey, Prentiss Kwabena Slaughter, Seth Ford, Lisa Adrienne Horrigan, Jenny Beinke, Heather Smedberg, Rosie Chase, Janice Dillard, Laura Carroll, Darran
White, Lisa Baldassari, Cindy Romanowski, Maria Villanueva, Carly Corder, Sean Jones, Susan Kunkle, Amber Cooper, Sean Raleigh, Kate Henningsen, Jeff Guntzel, Josh Leopold, Adrian Lucia, Alicia Duell, Diana Sudyka, Lisa Schoblasky, Analia Rodriguez.

Sometimes someone else said it best:
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

—From "I Sing the Body Electric," by Walt Whitman


BookishType202 said...

Cheers to you too, Fred!

Susan K

BookishType202 said...

E-mail me sometime! I think I posted too soon before checking the follow up box. You can find me at skunkle [at] fppl [dot] org (pardon the strange bout of punctuation, etc. but that's the one e-mail I *don't* get spam at, and I'm hoping I can hold it off just a little longer). I'm the Youth Services Outreach Librarian at the Forest Park library. It's a far cry from the Newberry, but I really do love it there. If you hear from any of the others, send them my regards!