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The artist who revolutionized American poetry gets the full Voices & Visions treatment here, with a full-bearded actor reading his work, reenactments of Civil War camp scenes, and poets Allen Ginsberg, Galway Kinnell, and Donald Hall lauding his contributions to their genre. Best known for "Leaves of Grass" (made famous again by the Clinton administration), Whitman was the first American poet to openly address the beauty of the human body and sexuality. Narrator Peter MacNicol spends 54 minutes tracing Whitman's beginnings on Long Island, New York, through to his death not far away in New Jersey more than 70 years later. In between, he tended to and wrote about wounded soldiers of the Civil War, conducted one of the first openly homosexual lives in the U.S., and constantly revised his single book of poems. Ginsberg calls Whitman the first urban poet, but he also wrote plenty of odes to nature, illustrated here by sunsets, running water, and fields as his words are read and sometimes displayed on screen. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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