Richard Leddy, of Moline, will portray poet Walt Whitman at 2 p.m. today in a free presentation at Dead Poets Espresso, 1525 3rd Ave. A, Moline.|
The 61-year-old Davenport native bears a striking resemblance to Whitman (1819-1892), with a fairly long gray beard. Mr. Leddy has played Whitman since March at Dead Poets, a brick-walled coffee house that boasts large portraits of several, well, dead poets.
"What really got this thing ticking is, I would see the pictures on the wall and thought, 'Somebody should come in and bring them to life,' " he said Thursday.
Mr. Leddy has averaged about one hour-long talk per month, in which he wears period clothes, reads Whitman poems, talks about other writers and events of the day and makes a few jokes.
"He became the American poet," Mr. Leddy said of Whitman. "He was just outspoken; he really described things the way he saw them.
"He was brilliantly talented. His poetry will stand the test of time. That's why I do what I do," he said. "This is poetry for the ages. It's classic poetry -- it's beautiful, it's thought-provoking."
Mr. Leddy's mother was an English teacher and librarian, and he leads a classic book group in the cafe at the Moline Public Library at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month. He also wants to do presentations on other "dead poets" such as Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson.
"My mother wouldn't want to let it go. I'm doing it in her memory," he said.
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