- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

ST PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Slam poetry got a fresh twist when three Victorian-era re-enactors read from poets such as William Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson in a setting that was fitting for the event — a 19th-century stone mansion.

Actor Craig Johnson, wearing a frock coat typical of the period, said at the Saturday night event that there were two reasons for holding a slam — where poetry is performed in the delivery style typically associated with rappers and hipsters — involving poets from bygone eras.

“One is just that we really love the literature,” he said. “The other is that it gives us a chance to do something we otherwise wouldn’t get to do at the Hill house.” Mr. Johnson manages the James J. Hill House for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Mr. Johnson and actresses Laura Salveson and Ann Brueggeman shook the dust off of poets from the 19th and 20th century, including Lewis Carroll and Walt Whitman, with rousing oratory and emphatic gestures.

A hushed reading of Walt Whitman’s Civil War ode, “O Captain! My Captain!” got some unintended audio assistance from the bells of nearby St. Paul Cathedral, which rang out just as Mr. Johnson reached the line “O captain, my captain, hear the bells.”

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