Moline man portrays Walt Whitman at Dead Poets


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Posted Online: May 16, 2013, 6:23 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
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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  Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.


(More History)