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Common Reassemble


Insert Yourself in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman’s work is woven throughout contemporary American life and culture. Sure, he’s included in all of the big poetry anthologies, but his influence is much more widespread—reflected in the Walt Whitman Service Area on the Jersey Turnpike or when Homer Simpson kicks Whitman’s tombstone. You might see yourself in Whitman’s vision of America—or you might not see yourself and instead see a space to come into his work to have the last word.

This spring, as a campus, we’ll be taking Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and transforming it into something new.


A common reassemble reenvisions the words and ideas of an iconic work.


Get your pages from Leaves of Grass and the materials to create your reassemble at the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center and the Design Thinking Initiative. Then scribble, color, erase, draw, tint, shade, collage, glue, diagram. If you can dream it, we want to see it.


The deadline to submit pages is June 1.

The Process

The Boutelle-Day Poetry Center and the Design Thinking Initiative will have stations with pages from Leaves of Grass and a variety of materials available for creating your own responses. We plan to display them outside of the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center in Wright Hall (and occasionally feature them on Instagram), and when everything is done, put the pages back together to create a whole new document.

Walt Whitman had a lot to say about what he thought America was. What will you say back?

This common reassemble is open to the Smith Community.


  • Choose one side of the page to hold your primary design.
  • By participating in this project, participants agree to allow their work to be posted on social media, and collected into a bound book that will be housed in the Mortimer Rare Books collection at the library.
  • If you wish to be credited, please write your name legibly on the back. (If you want us to tag you on instagram, please include your IG handle!)
  • Leave a 1 inch margin on the left side of your page (this will help us during binding later).
  • What you do to alter the text is up to you! Here are some strategies to get you thinking:
    Cover words or blank space with whiteout pen or tape, marker, colored pencil, cut/torn paper, washi tape, images from books or magazines, string, embroidery, photos or film negatives, buttons, beads, dried & sealed plant material.
  • Please take no more than 2 pages; we want to have enough for everyone!
  • Please put completed pages on the paper tray or windowsill in the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center so we can collect them.