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Showing posts from November, 2010

Walt Whitman, the First Great American Poet

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Walt Whitman left a legacy as an American poet that cannot be ignored.  Yet, nearly 120 years after his death, polarization of opinion about his work and his influence is still strong.  It seems that you either love him or you hate him, and in most cases that view depends upon your moral convictions.  There is no doubt that his work was controversial in his day, evidenced by the labels of “obscene” and “pornographic” given by some reviewers.  For those who have seriously studied his work, the general consensus of opinion is that Walt Whitman was a great American poet and in fact, is considered the first great poet of America.  However, to many in this great nation, instead of singing the body electric, Whitman’s poetry demeans and degrades the human spirit.  And while his works may have shocked the sensitivities of some readers in his day, it is tame by today’s standards, giving us an early preview of America as the land of porn.

A Short Biography

Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in New …

Getting Past Prejudices with the Musical Rent

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The warning signs outside the theater were ominous: “Adult content not suitable for children.”  Looking around as we entered, I had to remember that the college-age students there were not children.  That’s hard to do when you have offspring older than most present, including the actors performing the show.  Carol and I were there by assignment to see the musical “Rent,” the Tony and Pulitzer award winning rock-opera drama about life in New York’s Lower East Side in the late 1980’s.  It takes place in the neighborhood known as Alphabet City, an area primarily inhabited by bohemian young people wanting to break into theater, TV or music.  Sadly, the area also had high levels of illegal drug activity, violent crime and HIV/AIDS.

Undoubtedly the themes of homosexuality, AIDS, drug addiction and homelessness prompted the warnings about the adult content.  The characters include a gay male couple in which both partners have AIDS, an on-again/off-again lesbian couple, and a straight couple…