About "Song of Myself"

Welcome to the WhitmanWeb’s “Song of Myself," where we present the poem in fifty-two weekly installments, with commentaries and questions in English, also translated into Arabic, Persian, Russian, and Spanish; recordings of the poem in Arabic, English, Persian, and Russian; and photographs of the poet and his era.

The launch, on the autumnal equinox of 2012, featured the poem in nine languages: English, Chinese, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian (in two versions), Spanish, and Ukrainian. Arabic (in two versions), Malay, Polish, Romanian, Khmer, Kurdish and Filipino translations followed in 2013 and 2014, and two versions of translation into the Turkish in 2021. We hope additional languages will appear in the future, and welcome suggestions from our readers.

Think of this project as a year under the tutelage of the father of American poetry, “one of the roughs, a kosmos,” which uses the tools and resources of another cosmos, the Internet (and particularly the Walt Whitman Archive), to have a conversation, across languages, borders, and time zones, about the multiple meanings of this foundational text. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Whitman wrote. And we hope that the WhitmanWeb will inspire a multitude of new responses to, and ideas about, this crucial poem.

A word about the format. Each week, Professor Ed Folsom, co-director of the Whitman Archive, and Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, wrote short commentaries, a foreword and an afterword to each section, and posed a question inspired by the reading. The readers answered these in the Comments section of each page, or on the WhitmanWeb’s social media pages.

In February and March, 2014, professors Folsom and Merrill then co-taught an interactive online study of "Song of Myself" in MOOC format (Massive Open Online Course). The video lectures from Every Atom: Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" remain accessible online. A book version of Whitman’s poem, complete with Ed Folsom’s and Christopher Merrill’s commentaries on each section, is available from the University of Iowa Press.


Principal contributors:

  • Ed Folsom is the editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, co-director of the Walt Whitman Archive and editor of the Whitman Series at The University of Iowa Press. The Roy J. Carver Professor of English at The University of Iowa, he is the author or editor of twelve books, including Walt Whitman’s Native Representations (1994) and (with Kenneth M. Price) Re-Scripting Walt Whitman (2005), as well as numerous essays on Whitman and other American writers appearing in journals like American Literature, PMLA, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is now working on a biography of Leaves of Grass.
  • Christopher Merrill has published four collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and books of translations; and five works of nonfiction, recently Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War. His writings have been translated into thirty languages and his journalism appears widely. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions in more than thirty countries. His web site is http://www.christophermerrillbooks.com/.


  • The English reading of ‘Song of Myself’
    Eric Forsythe is a veteran stage, TV and film actor who trained at Dartmouth and Carnegie-Mellon (BA, MFA, PhD), and then with Grotowski's Lab Theatre in Poland. His recording career includes hundreds of credits, ranging from full-length works to poetry, to specials for NPR, radio and TV commercials and voices for stage productions across the country. He currently heads the Directing Program at the University of Iowa, and is Artistic Director of Iowa Summer Rep.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Persian
    Born in Iran, Sholeh Wolpé has lived in Trinidad, the UK, and is now based in Los Angeles. Her publications include two books of translation, three collections of poetry, most recently Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinths, and three anthologies, most recently Breaking the Jaws of Silence—Sixty American Poets Speak to the World, which received the 2013 Midwest Book Award. She is also the recipient of the 2010 Lois Roth Persian translation prize. Her work has appeared in literary journals, and anthologies worldwide. She teaches poetry and translation at the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. (sholehwolpe.com)
    Born in Iran, Sholeh Wolpe's co-translator Mohsen Emadi is the award-winning author of four collections of poetry published in Spain and in Iran, and four books of translations. He is the founder of the web gallery The Persian Anthology of World Poetry, featuring more than 300 world poets, and translators. He writes for the Encyclopedia of Iranian folklore, Ketab Kuche. He was awarded Primeo de Poesia de Miedo in 2010 and IV. Beca de Antonio Machado in 2011. Presently, he lives in Mexico City.
  • Translation of the commentaries into the Persian
    Poupeh Missaghi is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and an MA in Translation studies from Tehran Azad University. Her most recent works in Persian are a translation (from English) of Roberto Bolaño’s Last Evenings on Earth (Tehran, 2010/2012) and an upcoming translation (from English) of the same author’s Monsieur Pain.
  • Translation of the commentaries into the Russian
    Uzbeki poet and journalist Alina Dadaeva writes for several Tashkent-based newspapers and magazines. Her poems have appeared in Вдохновение [The Inspiration], an almanac of young Uzbek poets, and in the literary journals День и ночь [Day and Night], Звезда [The Star], Новая Юность [The New Youth], and Звезда Востока [The Star of the East]. Her first collection of poetry, Предчувствие [The Presentiment], was published in 2010.
  • Editor of the Spanish-language version of ‘Song of Myself’
    Matt Cohen is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a contributor to the Walt Whitman Archive since 1996, and is author of The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England (2010) and editor of Brother Men: The Correspondence of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston (2005).
  • Translation of the commentaries into the Arabic and the Arabic reading of the poem
    Nadia Fayidh Mohammed is a professor of English and American poetry at the University of Mustaserya in Baghdad (Iraq), where she specializes in contemporary African American poetry, as well as teaching various aspects of the ESL curriculum. She is also a member of the Iraqi Translators’ Association, working both from and into Arabic. Her own creative work appears on-line, and on her blog Seeing Things.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Malay
    Eddin Khoo is a poet, writer, translator and journalist. The founder-director of the cultural organization Pusaka, he also founded the publishing house Kala, which specializes in literary translations into Malay. Presently compiling his first collection of poems, All the World's Figures, he is also the translator of the Malay and Indonesian poets Latiff Mohidin and Goenawan Mohamad.
  • Translation of the commentaries into the Spanish
    Luis Alberto Ambroggio, Washington D.C.-based poet and translator, is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, essays and short stories, including the bilingual Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems 1987-2006 (2009) and The Wind’s Archeology (2011), which won the 2013 International Latino Book Award. His poems have been widely translated, and appear in publications in Latin America, USA and Europe. He is a member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language and other literary institutions.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Romanian
    Liviu Martinescu's publications include the translation into English of Constantin Severin's Zid și neutrino as Wall and Neutrino (London, 1997) and the translations into Romanian of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and Joseph Heller's Catch-22. He teaches English literature and language at Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Romania.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Filipino
    Filipino poet and activist Mark Angeles has anthologized writers in progressive zines such as KaMAO, featuring poems by Mao Zedong. He translates and edits works of Mediterranean, European, African, and Persian writers for K-12 textbooks. His third indie book Threesome (2012) included translations of Baudelaire, Cavafy, and Whitman, among others.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Kurdish
    Abdulla Pashew was born in Hawler (Erbil), south Kurdistan. A teacher there from 1970 to 1973, he went on to a PhD in Linguistics at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1984, then taught literature at Al-Fatih University in Libya. Since 1995 he has been living in Finland. His first collection of poetry فرمێسک و زام [Tears and Wounds] appeared in 1967; his ninth, رێسکەی عاشقێکی ز گماک [The Parcel of a Congenital Lover] in 2006. He has also translated poetry into Kurdish from the English and the Russian, notably Walt Whitman and A.S. Pushkin.
  • Translation of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Khmer
    U Sam Oeur was born in rural Cambodia. He received a MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1968, then returned to Cambodia, becoming eventually a member of parliament and a UN delegate. He, his wife, and son survived six labor camps during the Pol Pot regime. A bilingual edition of his poetry, Sacred Vows, and his memoir, Crossing Three Wildernesses, were published by Coffee House Press. He is the subject of the documentary Across Three Wildernesses; his work has also been set to music. He lives in McKinney, TX.
  • Translations of ‘Song of Myself’ into the Turkish
    Aytek Sever received his BA and MS degrees in International Tradeand Middle East Studies from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and Middle East Technical University, Ankara. His poetry collections include Hiperbor (2012), Siòn(2014), Moto Perpetuo (2016), Anka (2019) and Omega (2019; his translations into Turkish include works by Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Kandinsky,Tagore, Lawrence and Stein. He is the editor of the publishing website isaretatesi.com where the first-ever full-text Turkish translation of Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Benliğimin Şarkısı,appeared in 2018.

    Fahri Öz is a poet and translator. After signing the Academics for Peace declaration in 2016, he was in 2017 dismissed from his position at Ankara University, where he had until then taught British and American poetry, poetic genres, literary history, and translation. Among his translations into Turkish are works by Christina Rossetti, Jack London, Saki, William Burroughs and Bob Dylan; he is also the co-author and co-editor of Hayat Kısa Proust Uzun [Life is Short, Proust is Long] (2000), a collection of flash fiction in translation. His poetry book Meşrutiyet Çok Bulutlu On Beş Santigrat Yağmur Olasılığı Sıfır [Downtown: Heavily Overcast, 15 Degrees Celsius with Zero Chance of Rain] appeared in 2019. He is currently translating Whitman’s complete poems into Turkish: the first volume of four, containing 'Song of Myself,' here 'Kendimin Şarkısı,' came out in 2019, the second in 2020.

    Coordinating editor of WhitmanWeb

    Nataša Ďurovičová is the house editor of the International Writing Program, the editor of its journal 91st Meridian, and the co-editor of World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives (2009) as well as of On Translation's Edge (2019). Her scholarship concentrates on translation in audiovisual media.