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CMU to host 14th annual 'Leaves of Grass' marathon reading event

Drew Shornak | Staff Photographer Students and faculty gather for the 8th Annual Walt Whitman "Leaves of Grass" Reading near the Fabiano Botanical Gardens on September 17th.

Central Michigan University will hold its 14th annual Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass” Marathon Reading at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15 in the Fabiano Botanical Gardens beside the Charles V. Park Library. The reading will be lead by Robert Fanning, a professor in the English department.

The event is completely free and open to all students, regardless of major.

There will be plenty of time for students to stop by and space for blankets. It is expected that the event will last until the book is finished or whenever voices get tired. 

The reading will be from the Deathbed Edition of “Leaves of Grass,” containing over 400 poems. Anyone is welcome to take over and read aloud as well. There will be a few copies of the book available at the reading and free versions are accessible online, according to Fanning.

“In the past, students have talked about how enjoyable it was to feel living poetry, to really hear the poem read aloud and to take part in reading it,” Fanning said.

The event is meant to bring students together to enjoy the autumn air alongside Whitman’s musical words celebrating the Earth and life itself. 

"I feel like it gives our students a sense of how great this country is," Fanning said. "How great it is to be human and alive, how great it is to be able to celebrate being alive and in a country that's dynamic and powerful and full of so many different people. [Whitman] gives people an optimism that reminds us what it means not only to be human but to be an American in a powerful, powerful democracy.”

For more information, contact Robert Fanning at