Yashmak: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Brooklyn, history, Manhattan, Yashmak

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ij5_xl-vs0At this year’s Poetry Walk, Galway Kinnell read Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry for the fourteenth time at the Fulton Ferry Landing, the poem that veiled and unveiled Whitman’s sexual orientation. His poem as yashmak—offering those sensitive to his femininity to look in through the slit he widened with his words, a poem he suspected and hoped might find a larger, more open crowd among the men and women generations after him, seeing mast-hemm’d Manhattan and sea-gulls oscillating their bodies much like he did in his time of thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats. “Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!” he says, “Stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn! Throb, baffled and curious brain! Throw out questions and answers…”

1 thought on “Yashmak: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

  1. What an intriguing meditation on a Whitman poem, how he speaks corporeally, of his own physical sensations, through the brazen undulations of the birds. I would never have understood this “veiled” articulation of his own sexuality if you had not brought it forward. When I watch the images of all the yashmaked, burkaed, outspoken women in Teheran today, I am convinced that somehow these sartorial elements we of the west see as obstacles to expression, are somehow bringing a new strength.

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