Discover: Our Whitman Room

You may or may not have already noticed that our serviced offices all have human names. One of the reasons that we chose to call ourselves The Projects is to pay homage to the public housing “projects” in the US. Set up by the Government, they all began with a common dream—to end urban slums and provide an affordable, safe housing option for low-to middle-income families.

 

Their notorious and complicated past was a big part of our inspiration. They bought together an eclectic mix of people, cultures and views, creating a strong community with residents often describing others as part of their extended family. The “projects” urban environment was home to many different styles and artistic talents, producing people who became leaders in their field. Each of our serviced offices are named after someone who grew up in a housing project in either New York or Chicago.

The Whitman room has been named after Walt Whitman (1819–1892), America’s world poet.

Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant 19th-century poets and influenced many other renowned writers, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Simon Ortiz, C.K. Williams, and Martín Espada.

Born on Long Island, Whitman grew up in a deprived part of Brooklyn. He received limited formal education and started out in the world of work as a printer before becoming a schoolteacher, reporter, and then an editor.

Whitman’s self-published Leaves of Grass (1855, 1891-2) was inspired by his travels through the American frontier as well as his admiration for Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

This important publication underwent eight subsequent editions during Whitman’s lifetime as he revised the poetry and added more to the original collection of 2 poems. Emerson himself declared the first edition was “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed”.

Whilst Whitman published his own enthusiastic review of Leaves of Grass, critics and readers alike weren’t always as complimentary of his work.

 

They found both his style and subject matter unnerving. According to The Longman Anthology of Poetry, “Whitman received little public acclaim for his poems during his lifetime for several reasons: this openness regarding sex, his self-presentation as a rough working man, and his stylistic innovations”. Despite his mixed reception in the US, he was favourably received in England, with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne among the British writers who celebrated his work.

During the Civil War, Whitman worked as a clerk in Washington, DC. For three years, he visited soldiers during his spare time, dressing wounds and comforting the injured. It was these experiences that led him to write the poems in his 1865 publication, Drum-Taps, which includes, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” Whitman’s reflection of President Lincoln.

After suffering a serious stroke in 1873, Whitman moved to his brother’s home in New Jersey. While his poetry failed to gain popular attention from American readers during his lifetime, over 1,000 people came to view his funeral. As the first writer of a truly American poetry, Whitman’s legacy lives on and we’re proud to have a room named after him at The Projects.

 

”The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

 

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, preface (1855)

 

Keep your eyes peeled on our socials as we’ll be revealing each of the people behind our office names on by one, each has a moving story to be told.

If you are looking for an inspiring place to work from in Brighton then get in touch today. We’d love to hear about what you’re up to and see how we can best accommodate you. Email hello@the-projects.space now.