Maybe I can like Walt Whitman?

22Oct09

I just want to give Levi props for making me like Walt Whitman. After trudging through Whitman’s long-winded, dense poetry in my college American literature class, I was of the belief that Whitman was extremely overrated. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate him for giving us the free verse, but I also appreciate poetry I don’t get lost in, the bad kind of lost like I’m driving in a storm, run out of gas and my cellphone has died, not the kind of lost that happens when you go on a leisurely stroll and discover a new place. In all his incredibly profound verse, I got the sense that Whitman was full of himself, which is also a huge turnoff for me.

Levi’s new ad campaign “Go Forth,” however, has at least opened my ears to hear Whitman’s voice (literally) and his message. A recording of Whitman reading his poem “America” plays behind images of young people wearing Levi jeans being adventurous. Whether the ad will help save Levi Strauss & Co. is still debatable, but the ad is a beautiful mix of design, imagery, words and sounds, and I love it. For all his arrogance, Whitman can read a poem, and apparently he can write one I actually like too.

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7 Responses to “Maybe I can like Walt Whitman?”

  1. GIRL YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. I looove Walt Whitman!! In small doses, of course, but I think there is some insanely brilliant stuff in his work. And the video for this campaign is so sweet…I’d only seen the print ads on buildings around LA, and didn’t find it terribly inspiring. But his words paired with the cinematography style is very cool.

    • I will agree that he has his gems, but I hate that they are so buried. At least that’s what I remembered from my experience in class. Maybe now that I’m a tad older and wiser I should try again.

      • I love the wandering journey he takes you on, both literally and stylistically. And I’m always blown away by the inherent rhythm in what appears to simply flow naturally. I have no patience for getting lost in Austen, but I feel I could spend decades wandering through Whitman. Weird, huh? There’s just something on a deeper level about his spirit that speaks to mine. I have one of those Barnes & Noble pocket copies of Leaves of Grass, and I love to just flip through it and begin reading a poem at random.

  2. 4 Melinda

    Char,
    Congratulations on your amazing offer to review the Sense and Sensibility book. I am so completely and appropriately impressed. Way to take a step into the literary world. This is so awesome. I pray that God blesses this venture. Love ya!

  3. While I admit this ad does not make me want to buy jeans, it made me want to recite some poetry. I think what makes this effective is the man who is reading the poem. He has that old school news reel voice and the commerical has a vintage tone that really works. It did make me want to revist some kick ass poetry.

    • I know. I’m still buying my jeans from Old Navy, but I am now definitely in the mood to read and write some verse.


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