NYC Parks + The Poetry Society of America Unveil Five New Installations in Public Parks During National Poetry Month




Valentino Pier. Photo credit: NYC Parks

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue joined The Poetry Society of America Executive Director Matt Brogan, poet Edward Hirsch, and students from P.S. 676 and Summit Academy Charter School to celebrate five new installations bringing poetry to New York’s public parks through the Park Poems initiative. 

Gathering at Valentino Pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn, attendees were treated to a poetry reading by Hirsch before the unveiling of his poem “I Was Never Able to Pray” on the scenic pier. Before the unveiling, students crafted poems of their own, arranging stanzas out of park-themed Velcro word sets. 

Francis Lewis. Photo credit: NYC Parks

“Our public parks are important oases amid the hustle of New York City life, and these poetry installations will invite park patrons to pause, reflect, and connect with their environment in new ways,”said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Making beautiful poetry accessible to New Yorkers in all five boroughs fits perfectly with our mission at NYC Parks, and I am grateful to The Poetry Society of America for their partnership on this project.”

Said Matt Brogan, Executive Director of The Poetry Society of America: “Literature is the most democratic art form, and when we place poems in public spaces, we affirm that democratic spirit, creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds to encounter imaginative language in unexpected and intimate ways. Nowhere is that promise more abundant than in our public parks.”

Valentino Pier. Image Credit: NYC Parks

“It was a thrill to see my poem unveiled here today. My poem has been beautifully inscribed and reinvented in this installation, split into lines that spread like waves across the pier,” said poet Edward Hirsch. “This is the perfect place for my poem, which is all about sending my voice out across the waves. Encountering poetry in daily life, not in a classroom or museum – that seems to be the dream of poetry in American life.”

Park Poems is a new initiative that transforms poems into site-specific works of public art. Installed in harmony with the surrounding landscape and park infrastructure, the poems collectively focus on the theme of reflection, inviting parkgoers to pause and contemplate.

Clason Point. Image credit: NYC Parks

In this first year of the project, the Poetry Society and NYC Parks are displaying poems in the following five public parks: 

  • Bronx: Clason Point Park, “Twilight” by W.S. Merwin
  • Brooklyn: Valentino Pier Park, “I Was Never Able to Pray” by Edward Hirsch
  • Manhattan: Sunken Playground, “Oscura luz / Dark Light” by Francisco X. Alarcón (Spanish/English)
  • Staten Island: Clove Lakes Park, “我坐在這裡 / I Sit Here” by Liu Xia (Chinese/English)
  • Queens: Francis Lewis Park, “Six Tankas” by Harryette Mullen
Highbridge Park. Image credit: NYC Parks

The installations will remain on view for approximately one year. The poets selected hail from around the world, and non-English poems are presented in both the original language and English translation.