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The Believer Reveals Something We Did Not Already Know About Ezra Pound And Walt Whitman

By Harriet Staff

5-17-13_Sadakichi

-the story of Sadakichi Hartmann, a bohemian artist who befriended both Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound! Who the heck is Sadakichi Hartmann? Well friends, The Believer‘s Michelle Legro has done the legwork here and if you thought you knew all the crazy anecdotes there are to know about the great and powerful poets Ezra Pound and Walt Whitman, boy is this one a doozy!

According to Legro, Hartmann (of German and Japanese ancestry) immigrated to Philadelphia at the age of twelve after being disowned by his German father: his Japanese mother passed away before he turned a year old. As a young boy living with his great-uncle in Philly, Hartmann paid a visit to Walt Whitman, who lived in nearby Camden, New Jersey: “I would like to see Walt Whitman,” he said. Legro writes:

The poet—with his long gray beard and open, flowing shirt, which revealed his naked chest—greeted him by sight. “That’s my name. And you are a Japanese boy, are you not?”

If literature was the passport into this new kind of modern society, Walt Whitman was the common language, and the home of Whitman is where, around the age of sixteen, this lanky, German Japanese boy with a dark suit and a pince-nez began his American pilgrimage into the dark heart of bohemia.

Pound met Hartmann in Greenwich Village and later remarked “If one hadn’t been oneself, it would have been worthwhile to have been Sadakichi.” Read all about Hartmann’s life, art, and connections to modern poetry at The Believer.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, May 17th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.