Why Song of Myself?

“I saw what Matt Kish had done with Melville and immediately thought that the next natural step in this kind of project would be to include the text itself in the imagery. I wanted to do a poem, because of the brevity of form and evocative language. Whitman’s Song of Myself was an ideal fit, not just because it was iconic. The poem was long, it was broad in its scope, and its naturalistic tone posed an interpretive challenge.”


“The 1855 edition of Song of Myself is rough and wild in form, with successive editions becoming ever more structured. I wanted to take the 1855 edition and go in the opposite direction, make it even wilder, so that it ran in a torrent in multiple directions, like a bustling crowd or mountain stream.”

“I designed the book so that it too affected the reader’s experience. The small size and graphic density of the final book, combined with the non-linear arrangements of the illustrated poem, forces the reader to encounter Whitman’s poem in a new way. It causes the reader to slow down, turn the smallish book in their hands, and ponder the images and text. I wanted the book to be viewed as well as read. It is a visual record of the year-long journey I took through Whitman’s poem.”