In Loving Memory: Greg Trupiano, 1955-2020

 

I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful curious breathing laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them . . to touch any one . . . . to rest my arm ever so lightly round
his or her neck for a moment . . . . what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight . . . . I swim in it as in a sea.

Our cherished friend and fellow Whitmanite Greg Trupiano passed away on February 18, 2020.

Greg made a life’s work of bringing people together, joyously and energetically, through music and poetry. He worked at the Sarasota Opera (FL) for more than thirty years, and was the founder and director of the Walt Whitman Project, a Brooklyn-based community arts organization. A lifelong Brooklynite, Greg built community wherever he went and was beloved for his lively information-packed Whitman walking tours; he organized and hosted countless public concerts and events and regularly (and magnificently) read formidable Section 33 since the inception of New York’s “Song of Myself” Marathon in 2003.

Greg was a major force in bringing poetry to public life. He brought Whitman home to his America. We already miss his excellent company, Brooklyn charm, electric enthusiasm for the opera and all things Whitman.

Greg’s husband Lon is planning a memorial service in Brooklyn later this year, and the Whitman Initiative is hoping to hold the first annual Greg Trupiano Whitman Walk during the weekend of our seventeenth annual “Song of Myself” Marathon (to be held on Sunday, May 31st this year).

We love you, Greg. And we know that you, our intrepid tour guide, are stopping somewhere waiting….

–Karen Karbiener

Tributes from Our Community

In 2019, Whitman Initiative board member Di Cui produced a video featuring Greg entitled “Song of Ourselves: Community Activism in Whitman’s New York.”

I could still recall the walks I took with Greg walking around Brooklyn, hearing his charming voice and feeling his passion and deep love for Whitman, opera and the city. He willingly devoted his knowledge and time to help make my documentary grounded with his extensive knowledge on Whitman and the poet’s involvement in the arts. The story of Greg as an artist and activist who connected with the public all the time, on and off stage, really completed my film’s narrative of how Whitmaniacs are embodying the spirit of Whitman and still connecting with the city and its people. Greg was truly a community leader who brought people together and a warm-hearted individual who carried positive energy; he will be missed by us whom he inspired.

Di Cui
https://dicui.weebly.com

Greg was a lovely person and a lovely colleague who I was lucky to have known. He offered encouragement to me as I worked on researching Whitman’s connections to the Brooklyn Museum and its predecessor institutions – the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library and the Brooklyn Institute. Here is an outline detailing Whitman’s legacy at this institution which I was able to compile after discussions with Greg and others. He knew a great deal about the history of Brooklyn and readily shared his knowledge and ideas with many.

We had lots of great discussions but what stands out in my memory is working with him on a Walt Whitman Project program presented at the Brooklyn Museum Library in May 2009 as part of our Whitman Anniversary celebration. Greg and his colleagues created a lovely program that was presented in the Brooklyn Museum Library’s Reading Room. The outstanding event offered exquisite readings of Whitman’s writings by Greg, Lon Black, assoc. Artistic director of the Walt Whitman Project and Hakim Williams with beautiful singing by contralto Nicole Mitchell. I know Whitman would have enjoyed the event which featured the sound of his words spoken and sung by this team of professionals and enjoyed by an audience of lovers of books.

Since then Greg has encouraged me along in lots of endeavors including participating in readings at the annual Whitman Marathon and thinking further about Whitman’s legacy to Brooklyn and the rest of the world. Greg’s warmth and generous spirit as well as his dedication to the arts is missed by us all.

Deirdre Lawrence
https://www.deirdrelawrence.com/

Greg Trupiano did so much to bring Whitman public programming to NYC. It was through his Whitman Project events where I first met and worked with him at the Brooklyn Public Library and St Francis College. His tireless dedication to all things Whitman in poetry and song made him unique. We, at the Whitman Initiative, are so grateful for all Greg did to bring people from all over the world together to celebrate Whitman. I’m particularly grateful for the service he gave to the St Francis College community, especially through his many excellent Brooklyn walking tours. It brings much happiness knowing that these tours will live on in his memory at the Whitman Initiative.

My sincerest condolences to his partner Lon and to all his family and friends. He was a wonderful Whitmanic personality and he will be dearly missed.

Ian S. Maloney
Whitman Initiative
St Francis College

SAVE WALT’S RYERSON HOUSE

The Walt Whitman Initiative, along with Brad Vogel (Executive Director of the New York Preservation Archive Project), a team of historic preservationists (including Andrew Dolkart and Simeon Bankoff), and the NYC LGBTQ Historic Sites Project, have formed a “Coalition to Save Walt Whitman’s House” in an effort to draw attention to Whitman’s historical home at 99 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn, and its  need for protection and preservation.

Please help support our efforts to protect 99 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn— his only New York City home that is still standing, and the very place he completed the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855.  The plain appearance of this 1850s wood frame house appearance contrasts sharply with the grand homes of Longfellow in Cambridge MA and Emerson in Concord, MA, reminding pilgrims of the urban, working-class roots of America’s greatest poet.

Please sign your name to the petition to designate the site a landmark and/or write directly to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (RFE@lpc.nyc.gov). Contact us for other ways to help in this effort.  Thank you!

Sign to Save Walt’s House!

MARTIN SCORSESE, BRIAN SELZNICK JOIN RECHARGED LANDMARKING CAMPAIGN

Film director, producer, historian, and fellow New Yorker Martin Scorsese recently registered his “full support of the initiative to landmark 99 Ryerson” with Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. Widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinematic history, Mr. Scorsese shares with Whitman a coming-of-age story in New York City.

“As a lifelong New Yorker, I realize the importance of preserving this site, which plays a foundational role in the cultural heritage of our city as well as our country,” writes Mr. Scorsese in his letter to Chair Carroll, sent on August 13, 2019. “Landmarking 99 Ryerson will help ensure that future generations are inspired by the remarkable rise of America’s poet from the streets of New York.”

Among the more than 45 groundbreaking films directed or produced by Martin Scorsese is Hugo, based on the Caldecott Award-winning children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Mr. Selznick, whose most recent publication is Live Oak, with Moss, a new edition of Whitman’s secret same-sex love poems (Abrams, 2019), also supports the Whitman Initiative’s campaign to landmark the house on Ryerson Street.

“Walt Whitman is an essential part of the American artistic tradition and the home where he lived when he first published Leaves of Grass should be designated a landmark,” Selznick said.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE
Read Martin Scorsese’s Letter!

SONG OF MYSELF MARATHON 

What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?
Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not.

Each year Whitmaniacs gather on the shores of Brooklyn to recite Whitman’s “Song of Myself ” in its entirety. Persevering through the unyielding heat and epic storms, nothing mother nature has thrown at us has been able to halt this incredible tribute to Whitman’s life and work. Now the Corona virus and the city-wide regulations enacted to battle its spread have confronted us with a new challenge, one that will, as it has for so many events and gatherings, alter the very fabric of our humble endeavor. But do not fear, there WILL be a marathon this year! We are devising a plan to bring the marathon online and to gather everyone, as best we can, through the tools of technology. We will be revealing our plans and starting a call for readers shortly and we hope you will join us. Perhaps this will be the biggest marathon ever! Maybe there will be participants from across the country and around the globe!  Something tells us Walt would love that.

SOM Marathon 2019

Last year the 16th annual Song of Myself Marathon was title the “StoneWalt Edition” and was held in honor of Whitman’s 200th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

WWI IN THE NEWS

Ryerson News

“Preserving Walt Whitman’s Clinton Hill house: Poet’s 200th birthday improves odds”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Lore Croghan, May 9, 2019

Learn about the fight to save Whitman’s Ryerson house and the important role that the Walt Whitman Initiative is taking in that effort!

VIEW THE ARTICLE
200th Birthday

“Celebrating Walt Whitman the Long Islander, 200 years after he was born”
Newsweek, John Hanc, May 10, 2019

An article on Whitman’s connection to Long Island throughout his life, featuring insights and Whitman walking tours by Karen Karbiener!

VIEW THE ARTICLE
Walt Whitman Way Co-Naming

PAST WHITMAN INITIATIVE ACTIVITIES

On Nov. 2nd we celebrated the co-naming of the intersection of Ryerson Street and DeKalb Avenue as Walt Whitman Way! Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, poets, and Whitman enthusiasts were on hand to celebrate this milestone marking the 200th Anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth and the work to landmark his former home at 99 Ryerson Street.

In 1855, Walt Whitman would travel from his house on 99 Ryerson St. to the Rome Print shop on 98 Cranberry St. and back again to work on the publication of his masterwork Leaves of Grass. During the Walt Whitman Way Day ceremony we retraced Whitman’s footsteps between these two locations, learning about his connection to the neighborhood along the way, and arriving just in time for the amazing ceremony speakers and performers!

More Information on the Ceremony and the Ramble!

Walt Whitman Birthday Bicentennial Publication!

Interested in finding out what this Whitmania is all about?
Want to find a Whitman event near you?
Want to learn more about Whitman and his work?
The Walt Whitman Birthday Bicentennial Publication has got you covered!

Thanks to all the Whitman Consortium members that made this publication possible.

View the Publication