Whitman 150th Anniversary Calamus Poems Leaves of Grass is a mixed media work on canvas. Around the edge is a verse from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Found b&w photos (tin types, cabinet photos, snapshots, etc.) of male couples were enlarged, hand-colored with ink, photo dyes, markers, and/or acrylics. Each was then cut out and mounted on my 30x20 inch painted (acrylic) canvas. It was done for an exhibition in NYC called Walt Whitman: The 150th Anniversary of the Calamus Poems, Leaves of Grass. The "Calamus" poems are actually a cluster of poems. Whitman wrote the first hint of them in 1859. They celebrate and promote "the manly love of comrades." It is thought that the poems are Whitman's clearest expressions in print of his ideas about homosexual love.
The cluster of poems have many images and motifs that are repeated throughout. The most important is the Calamus root itself: acorus calamus, or Sweet Flag. It grows in marshes and is like a cat-tail. Some write that the poet chose the Calamus because of its phallic shape.