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Josie Long: Why I love Walt Whitman

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'He's up for genuinely exploring his own experiences. That's what I aim for in standup'

When I was 12, I sang in my local choir what a cool dude. We would do adaptations of Walt Whitman's poems, including One's-Self I Sing from his collection Leaves of Grass, in which he celebrates life's "passion, pulse and power". There's a great line: "The female equally with the male I sing." When I read it for the first time, I just thought: "Yes!"

A few years later, I picked up one of his books for a quid. Some of his work is so epic, it's overwhelming. As a teenager, I read a lot of poetry that was very terse, like Sylvia Plath's, but Whitman is all over the place. I love all the Os and the exclamation marks it's like he just thought, "These are the things that I felt I must say today!" and "These are the things that have happened to me!" There are some powerful poems about the civil war, during which he worked as a nurse, but then some of it is really quite small too. He fits in all of human experience.

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