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Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell is a former MacArthur Fellow and has been state poet of Vermont. He is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including Selected Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He teaches at New York University, where he is the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing.


Walt Whitman and Negative Capability

Spring 2005 | Essays

Walt Whitman had Keatsian “negative capability”—a certain shapelessness of personality, a peculiar power to obliterate himself and flow into some other being and speak it from within—and speak himself in the process. “I am the man—,” he wrote, “I suffered—I was there.” A transaction seems to occur: Whitman gives whatever he flows into a presence in human consciousness, and in return, this other thing or creature gives Whitman a situation and vocabulary which enable him to see and articulate his own being in a new way.