Whitman on Walls! Event Brings Poetry to Gaelic Park

By Jocelyn Visnov, Production Editor/Web Editor

Jaspers welcomed guest poets and Manhattan College alumni to Gaelic Park for a celebration of poetry and film. Whitman on Walls! (WoW!) brought the words of the iconic poet to life through a series of short films which read Whitman’s “Song of Myself” followed by responses to the films in the form of original works of poetry. 

The event took place on Friday, Sept. 16 beginning at 8 p.m. as part of the ongoing effort to celebrate the college’s centennial anniversary of the move from Manhattan to the Bronx. The event is one of eight WoW! events in which local poets are tasked with writing original poems in response to a short film. 

The short films were produced by Compagnia de’ Colombari, a local theater collective which turned Karin Coonrod’s original production of “MORE OR LESS I AM” into seven short films. 

Coonrod spoke with the Quadrangle on her feelings at the conclusion of the night. 

“We had a wonderful time bringing all these different people together,” Coonrod said. “The poets were all so energetic and wonderful to work with!” 

No two WoW! events are alike, as each one brings in the talent of different local poets. For the WoW! event in Gaelic Park, the guest poets included faculty members from the Manhattan College English department, as well as two recent alumni of the school.

Among the alumni who read their original works to the crowd was former editor-in-chief of The Quadrangle, Gabriella DePinho ‘21 who accepted the invitation to return to campus as a guest poet.

“I was totally surprised that I was asked to do it,” DePinho said. “But I’m still in touch with a lot of the professors in the English and communication department. And so they reached out to me and I was totally on board.” 

DePinho gave The Quadrangle a brief explanation behind what else had inspired the original poem she shared, other than with her assigned short film. 

“I just kind of wanted to talk about how, you know, in personal moments you really feel connected to yourself and your body and your mind is all kind of aligned,” DePinho said. “But then, you know, you look out at society and the way we treat people at a larger level, and it doesn’t seem like we recognize humanity and the self and the body as all being connected. And I had the opportunity to talk about that in my poem, and I hope it resonated with people.” 

The event was hosted by Michael Grabowski, Ph.D., professor of communication and chair of the department. Grabowski gave a brief introduction before the event began with the first of seven short films which played on a blow-up projector screen. 

Attendees for WoW! were able to sit in the bleachers of Gaelic Park, where the event concluded with a call-and-response poem with participation from the audience. 

Among the attendees was junior Alicia Camargo, who came to WoW! having never been to a similar event prior. 

“I’ve never been to a poetry reading before, and honestly, I really enjoyed it,” Camargo said. “I was kind of nervous because I sometimes feel like I just don’t get poetry, but I enjoyed the event. I really liked a few of the poems that were told, and I think it was a good experience.”

Camargo was accompanied by Mary Gerhaag, a junior, who spoke to the Quad at the conclusion of the night. 

“I came here for an assignment for my creative nonfiction workshop class,” Gerhaag said. “And I’ve actually been to a lot of poetry events, but this one was very, very different. It was very upbeat and lively!” 

*Editor’s Note: Gabriella DePinho, interviewed in this piece, is a former editor of The Quadrangle.