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Adults only: Cloquet library brings Walt Whitman’s hidden life into the open

The Cloquet Public Library will host an adult-themed look at the life of Walt Whitman at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7.  

In “Leaves of Grass Illuminated,” Twin Cities performer Patrick Scully assumes the role of Whitman, talking through his life story, railing against the Puritan morals of the day and reading excerpts from Whitman’s works while providing a look into the controversial life of perhaps America's greatest poet.

Whitman, as portrayed by Scully, is a confident man who explains his practice of coding the language in his poems to deflect the wrath of a rabidly homophobic society. Despite these efforts, Whitman’s works were banned and critics were quick to denounce him. He was fired from a government job, banned in Boston and shunned by Harvard. All of this is hard to imagine today given the major influence of his writing on American literature.

The show is the product of over 10 years of research and development. A large-cast version opened in Minneapolis to critical acclaim in 2014. Scully developed that production into a one-man show which premiered in both New York City and Minneapolis in 2016. He is now touring with his performance to 24 communities in Minnesota, with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Legacy funds.

In addition to this, the Cloquet Library Reading Club will discuss a Whitman-themed play at the group's first Fall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12.

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