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William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 12 March 1885

 loc.02601.002_large.jpg Dear W. W.

How about the article on Ars Poetica?2 Have you thought about it? rec'd it? lost it? I will send stamps for return if you find that, on the whole, nothing can be done with it in Philadelphia. Heard from Dr Bucke recently. He asked what had become of my article. Paper rec'd (Camden) Thanks

aff W.S. Kennedy.  loc.02601.001_large.jpg

William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This postal card is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St | Camden | N. Jersey. It is postmarked: [illegible] | MAR | [illegible] | MASS; CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 12 | 10 AM | 1885 | REC'D. [back]
  • 2. On January 16 Kennedy sent the manuscript of "The New Ars Poetica," in which he attempted to defend Whitman's poetic style. On June 2 he accepted Whitman's suggestion of expanding his article. This essay became part of The Poet as A Craftsman (see the letter from Whitman to Kennedy of December 2, 1885). [back]
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