Walt Whitman’s „Leaves of Grass” in Latvian is the newest book in the bilingual Velvet Series by the Neputns Publishers. The American classic Walt Whitman (1819–1892) has joined the circle of outstanding authors: Angelus Silesius, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare and Joseph Brodsky whose collections of poems have already been published within this series.
This collection of poems attempts at having a new look at Whitman’s poetry by including in the book not only his classical works but also those poems which in the Latvian edition of 1960 were published in shortened version or were not included at all.
In these poems alongside with glorification of America and propaganda or global fraternity one can trace also quite different themes, like self-analysis, assessment of the meaning of creative process, human sexuality, chalenging the standards of public morality, depiction of different layers of society. This collection opens up a new and more up-to-date view on the founder of the American modern poetry.
The book represents a collective work of Latvian poets-translators of different generations – Knuts Skujenieks, Elmārs Apse, Jānis Elsbergs, Kārlis Vērdiņš, Arvis Viguls and Artis Ostups. In his preface the compiler of the collection Kārlis Vērdiņš gives an overview of Walt Whitman’s poetry and its path to contemporary readers.