New York, NY – August 2018Andrew Smith, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Abrams ComicArts and Abrams Children’s Books, announced today that Abrams ComicArts will publish Live Oak, with Moss (Abrams ComicArts; April 9, 2019; U.S. $29.99; Hardcover), the newest work from New York Times bestselling author and Caldecott–winning illustrator Brian Selznick. Selznick’s illustrations will accompany a series of little-known queer poems written by celebrated poet Walt Whitman. The book will also feature scholarly commentary from Professor Karen Karbiener, PhD. The book was acquired by Tamar Brazis, Editorial Director, who will edit the book, and the deal was negotiated by Noel L. Silverman, Esq.

“I met the legendary illustrator Maurice Sendak at a book signing, and we quickly became friends. Coincidentally he was reading Walt Whitman for the first time, and I had just finished a children’s book about the poet. Maurice told me an incredible story about a sequence of poems Whitman had written about a love affair he had with another man that he never published. Instead he cut up the poems, rearranged them, and hid them in Leaves of Grass. The poetry sequence remained secret for a hundred years until it was discovered, pieced back together, and named Live Oak, with Moss. It was my friend Karen Karbiener who suggested I create a book from these poems. I hope Maurice would have approved,” says Brian Selznick.

As he was turning forty, Walt Whitman wrote twelve poems in a small handmade book he entitled Live Oak, with Moss. The poems were intensely private reflections on his attraction and affection for other men, and Whitman’s most adventurous explorations of the theme of same-sex love. This revolutionary, extraordinarily beautiful, and passionate cluster of poems was never published by Whitman during his lifetime and has remained unknown to the general public—until now.

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Brian Selznick for more than twenty years, and during that time we’ve had many conversations about our mutual love of Walt Whitman. Brian can make a visual book unlike anyone else, and this important text is the perfect subject for his first illustrated adult book,” says Tamar Brazis, Editorial Director.

Selznick has been greatly influenced by Whitman and has created more than 100 pages of original images that form a visual narrative around his work which provide a stirring interpretation.This transporting tour de force presents Whitman like never before and will be beloved by Selznick’s myriad fans as well as poetry lovers everywhere. An afterword by Professor Karen Karbiener illuminates the story of Whitman’s enigmatic cluster of poems, provides keys for interpreting their meanings, and highlights their contemporary significance.


About the Authors  

Walt Whitman is one of the most beloved poets in American letters, best known for his Leaves of Grass.

Brian Selznick is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, among many other beloved books for children. He lives in Brooklyn and San Diego.

Karen Karbiener is a is an internationally recognized scholar of Walt Whitman and teaches at New York University.  She lives in Manhattan.


About the Book

Live Oak, with Moss
By Walt Whitman, illustrated by Brian Selznick
Afterword by Karen Karbiener
Abrams ComicArts | April 9, 2019
U.S. $29.99 | CAN $37.99
Hardcover | 192 pages
5½ x 8¼” | Full-color illustrations throughout
ISBN: 978-1-4197-3405-2


For Immediate Release
Contact: Maya Bradford
Senior Publicist


Founded in 1949, ABRAMS was the first company in the United States to specialize in publishing art and illustrated books. The company continues to publish critically acclaimed and bestselling works in the areas of art, photography, cooking, craft, comics, interior and garden design, entertainment, fashion, and popular culture; children’s books ranging from middle grade to young adult fiction to picture books to board books. ABRAMS creates and distributes brilliantly designed books with the highest production values under the following imprints: Abrams; Abrams ComicArts; Abrams Image; Abrams Press; Abrams Books for Young Readers; Amulet Books; Abrams Appleseed; and a gift and stationery line, Abrams Noterie. ABRAMS also distributes books for 5 Continents Editions, Booth-Clibborn Editions, Cameron + Company, Alain Ducasse Édition, Getty Publications, Ludion, The Museum of Modern Art, Obvious State, SelfMadeHero, Tate Publishing, V&A Publishing, and The Vendome Press.