Whitman, Alabama

Whitman, Alabama is a fantastic project by Jennifer Crandall, documenting the people she encountered in Alabama. In recording them, there was a catch: she asked them to read poetry.

For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has crisscrossed this deep Southern state, inviting people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman. The 19th century poet’s “Song of Myself” is a quintessential reflection of our American identities.

I can’t express how moved I was, on seeing this. It made me think of what originally drew me to my (now offline) project “A Poem From Us” – the powerful act of someone just reading a poem. Not performing it, not on stage, just looking into the camera and reading a poem.

I’m also very reminded of one of the first instances I recall of poetry and video mixing together – The United States of Poetry, directed by Mark Pellington.

Where Pellington’s videos involve more celebrities and more cinematics, Crandall’s project is content to just let the speaker speak.

There are additional videos on the Whitman, Alabama site. In particular, I was taken with Verse 37:

I recommend visiting the page for Verse 37, and to look over the notes and the text of the poem there.

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National Poetry Month Project: A Poem From Us

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