Passing stranger

*Soundwalk/ East village poetry walk*

I’m new to the city, and the East village poetry walk was the perfect opportunity to get a better look at this particular part of the city and it is just a few blocks away from NYU.

Getting to the starting point of the walk took me a while, I didn’t find the map that helpful, even though it had pictures of the places that you were supposed to be. Is not that I didn’t locate the street, is that I  got confused with the starting points. Often, going to a particular point in the map translated in a re-start of the audio (not to the audio that you were interested in hearing but the introduction one). Maybe it was a mix of clumsiness, poor cell phone signal, and web interaction. After several attempts, I decided the best plan was to take a good look at the map, make an idea of the walk, locate the start point and the end, let the audio run and go back beginning.

I didn’t know much about the New York School before the walk, how important the movement was for the city at the time (still, obviously) not only in the poetic or artistic scene but how it was deeply influenced by activism. You could feel the movement effect until this day, the spirit is very much alive on the streets.


The audio transport you to the 50’s, make you feel like you were there. I believe that was the most surprising thing. From the beginning, it’s a time travel experience; walking down the streets where the buildings haven’t change, the trees that are still there, The poetry project is still there. Somehow hearing this ghosts (narrator/poets/moments/happenings) floating around you, they make you feel welcome and part of the city, or an east villager at least. How sound could enhance the experience of an in situ visit, making it vivid and deep was remarkable.

And then the narrator said: ” Allen Ginsberg”, and I recognize him as the writer of the poem “Howl”, parts of the poem where recited. With red brick building surrounding me, I got dizzy… It was a little surreal. It was out of the radar to me, I wasn’t connecting the dots… I was just walking and imagining, but it’s only when there are subjects or characters that you truly recognize, that the experience is much more meaningful and rich.


*Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.*

Walt Whitman

Posted in V&S

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