On September 22nd, Newburyport Custom House is hosting a free event to honor Walt Whitman. Whitman on Walls, a program established by the director of Yale Drama School, Karin Coonrod, consists of the screening of seven films. In between film segments, local poets, including our own Newburyport High alumni and students, Lynn Omondi’ 19, Charlie Grossman ‘22, Tuala Sullivan’ 23, will share their responses.
Over the summer, Charlie Grossman and Tuala Sullivan worked together to develop a response to a poem for the Whitman program. Tuala and Charlie said their collaboration intertwined two independent voices into one cohesive response to an excerpt from the poem “The City” in Whitman's collection Leaves Of Grass.
Why are these NHS poets participating in the Whitman program? Charlie Grossman feels poetry describes “the little things in life you can’t explain in normal words, words don’t get the job done!” For Grossman, poetry explains life's complexity through figurative language. Sullivan was connected through NHS’s Poetry Soup Program, where she grew an appreciation and interest in the art. Inspired by poets such as Langston Hughes, Tuala expanded her “poetry palette” by listening to guest speakers at Poetry Soup.
Both Charlie and Tuala share an immense gratitude for Ms. Deb Szabo, a retired NPS teacher who showcases students’ work and talents in the Newburyport community. According to Grossman, Szabo acts as a “bridge between poets who are freelancers to NHS,” helping students and alumni become involved.