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READING : Bilingual 'Song' Will Sing Walt Whitman's Praises

August 20, 1992|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

Though Walt Whitman died in 1892, his work has endured, perhaps due to a spirit that embraces and celebrates the individual even in a growing, industrial society.

On Friday, the Tertulias, Orange County's PEN chapter (a group of poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists), will mark the 100th anniversary of the poet's death with a bilingual reading of "Song of Myself" from his volume "Leaves of Grass."

The collection, which Whitman revised several times during his 73 years, sends a hopeful message to citizens to unite and go forward with a generous spirit.

"Leaves" was viewed by some during Whitman's time as indecent because of such poems as "I Sing the Body Electric," which celebrated physical beauty and pleasure.

Los Angeles-based poet Jack Grapes, renowned for his interpretation of Whitman's works, will read in English, followed by a reading in Spanish by Florinda Mintz as translated by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges.

Paying homage to Whitman's great love for music ("Leaves of Grass" was inspired by his love for opera), recorded musical accompaniment will be provided by Fullerton-based composer Lloyd Rodgers.

The selection features music popular during Whitman's lifetime, such as "The Union" by Luis Moreau Gottschalk and "The Pond" by Charles Ives.

As with every Tertulias evening, the crowd is invited to participate in an open reading after the hour-long event.

What: "An Evening with Walt Whitman," sponsored by Orange County Chapter of Pen's Tertulias.

When: Friday, Aug. 21, from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Bear Street Cafe on the first level of Crystal Court, 3333 Bear St., Costa Mesa.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (405) Freeway, exit Bristol Street north. Go left on Sunflower Avenue and left again at Bear Street. Crystal Court is on the right side; underground parking available.

Wherewithal: Admission is free.

Where to Call: (714) 435-2160

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