“When I was 12, I sang in my local choir – what a cool dude. We would do adaptations of Walt Whitman’s poems, including One’s-Self I Sing from his collection Leaves of Grass, in which he celebrates life’s ‘passion, pulse and power’. There’s a great line: ‘The female equally with the male I sing.’ When I read it for the first time, I just thought: ‘Yes!’
A few years later, I picked up one of his books for a quid. Some of his work is so epic, it’s overwhelming. As a teenager, I read a lot of poetry that was very terse, like Sylvia Plath’s, but Whitman is all over the place. I love all the Os and the exclamation marks – it’s like he just thought, ‘These are the things that I felt I must say today!’ and ‘These are the things that have happened to me!’ There are some powerful poems about the civil war, during which he worked as a nurse, but then some of it is really quite small too. He fits in all of human experience.'”
Read more of Josie’s story in the Guardian here!