Whitman on Walls Brings Poetry and Film Performance to Gaelic Park

The hybrid production kicks off Manhattan College’s celebration of 100 years in The Bronx

Walt Whitman was a poet and provocateur whose work set out to transcend the divisions of the day and tried to find the value in every human life. On Friday, September 16,  at 8 p.m.,  Manhattan College will host  Whitman on Walls! — WoW!, a hybrid poetry and film production and is one of several events being held by the College that mark 100 years in the Bronx. 

The production, which has been described as an “outdoor movie meets poetry slam,” is produced by Campagnia de’ Colombari, an NYC based theater company, and is adapted from Karin Coonrod’s “More or Less I Am.” Coonrod is the company’s founding director. Whitman.jpg

“After two years of isolation, I wanted to bring this production to the Bronx as a way to engage the community and to bring people in the borough closer together,” says Michael Grabowski, Ph.D.,  chair of the Manhattan College communications department. “Whitman’s great 1855 poem ‘Song of Myself,’ joyfully acknowledges all that makes us human and connects us despite this conflicted and messy world. The event will also kick off the celebration of Manhattan College’s 100 years in the Bronx.” 

Whitman on Walls! incorporates Whitman’s radical vision with 50 Campagnia de’ Colombari actors performing in seven short films alongside seven poets who through their own poetry, talk back to and engage with Whitman. Whitman’s words proclaim a challenge that is still relevant today. The goal of the production is to capture the restless spirit of the city and to accept Whitman’s invitation to “step into the unknown.” 

The performance features: 

Haydil Henriquez was chosen as the borough’s first poet laureate in 2021, and promotes inclusion of and passion for poetry across the Bronx. 

Mariposa Fernandez is a renowned Bronx poet who explores themes of empowerment, family and identity. 

David Mills is an acclaimed Bronx poet who has published four poetry collections. 

Melinda Wilson is a visiting assistant professor of English at Manhattan College and is a published poet, critic and essayist. 

Dominika Wrozynski is an associate professor of English at Manhattan College. Her research and teaching interests focus on poetry and poetics, literary theory and creative nonfiction. 

Gabriella DePinho ’21 is a Manhattan College alum and M.S. candidate at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. 

JC Pozo-Olano ’22 is a Manhattan College graduate. 

The performance will take place in Gaelic Park, which has a rich history that includes both athletic events and live concerts. In the 1970s, it was the site of a famed Grateful Dead concert, the last time the group performed as an original quintet. Since 1991, it has been the site of Jaspers home games for lacrosse, soccer and softball. 

Whitman on Walls will be performed Friday, September 16 at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. at Gaelic Park, 4000 Corlear Ave. Bronx, NY 10463. It is free to the public.

By David Koeppel