A while back we posted a story on artist Matt Kalish’s awesome project to illustrate every page of Moby Dick . That challenging enterprise inspired Philadelphia-based illustrator Allen Crawford to hand-letter and illustrate his own version of Walt Whiman’s “Song of Myself” , the beloved long poem from Leaves of Grass.
Here in the Philly area, where Whitman spent his last years, we take the American literary icon very seriously. This is how Crawford explains his passion for the project:
“I try to treat the poem as almost a landscape, in the sense that I’m exploring this unknown territory and I’m taking field notes from the mind of Whitman. He treats ‘Song of Myself’ as this broad, epic sweeping poem where he’s trying to include everything about American life he’s experienced. So it is a kind of landscape, a kind of world. It is a kind of continent in itself. And as you’re travelling through it, you have different impressions, your style will change, the type will change, sometimes the type will take the fore and you’ll get a very pictorial sort of a interpretation, or a symbolic one. Sometimes the image doesn’t necessarily jive, and isn’t depicting something that’s actually in the poem. I’m trying to provide a parallel narrative to Whitman’s in visual form.”