By SueAnn Rybak, Communications Associate

Whitman on Walls: drive-in movie meets poetry slam

Whitman on Walls (WoW!) is a one-of-a-kind family friendly event that brings together local poets and film. At the event, seven short films will be projected onto Venice Island Performing Arts Center. The films present parts of Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself. Following each film, a local poet will “speak back” to Whitman in their own words. The poets will challenge or agree with Whitman.

The project is the brainchild of Karin Coonrod and her Compagnia de’ Colombari. In 2020 the company was presenting MORE OR LESS I AM. This show featured Coonrod responding to Song of Myself. When the shows couldn’t proceed due to COVID, the company switched gears to make the seven films.

Recorded over three weeks, the films feature over 50 performers from many countries. The films embody Whitman’s words. WoW! is a collaboration with institutional partners and living poets across the globe.

Coonrod explained why a poem from 1855 is still relevant to people today. She said that Whitman speaks to an audience in his time and in the future. He asks people to take their own journey and to celebrate their individuality. Most importantly, he asks people to remember their connection to one another.

The local poets participating in this event include:
  • Sean Hanrahan
  • David Kozinski
  • Elijah Pringle
  • Alison Lubar
  • Margaret Stearns
  • Leah Jackson
  • Third grade students from Samuel Powell Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Event details


Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center
7 Lock St., Philadelphia, PA, 19127


Saturday, August 20, 2022
7 p.m. – site opens
8 p.m. – performance

Coonrod partnered with Venice Island PAC and Mad Poets Society to bring the event to Philadelphia.