Park Poems

Park Poems Logo

The Poetry Society of America and NYC Parks are delighted to partner on the second annual edition of Park Poems, an initiative that transforms poems into site-specific works of public art. Installed in harmony with the surrounding landscape and park infrastructure, the poems invite parkgoers to pause and reflect on the world around them and the emotional lives of their fellow citizens.

In April 2024, the Poetry Society and NYC Parks will place poems in five public parks, one in each borough: Jerome Slope (Bronx), J. Hood Wright Park (Manhattan), Torsney/Lou Lodati Park (Queens), 100% Playground (Brooklyn), and Richmond Terrace Park (Staten Island). The installations will remain on view for approximately one year.

Poets featured in the installations hail from both New York City and around the world, and non-English works are presented in both the original language and English translation. The five poems featured are “Regreso a la ciudad” / “Return to the City,” by Manuel Ulacia; “Trappings,” by Noelle Kocot; “Cut Shadows,” by Ron Padgett; “Slam, Dunk, & Hook,” by Yusef Komunyakaa; and “Wish,” by Hoa Nguyen.

The Poetry Society and NYC Parks first launched Park Poems in April 2023. Since its inception, the program has served as an inspiration for similar partnerships with state and national parks, including You Are Here, the signature project of Poet Laureate Ada Limón, which champions the ways reading and writing poetry can situate us in the natural world.

Featured Poems

“Regreso a la ciudad / Return to the City” by Manuel Ulacia
translated by Indran Amirthanayagam
“Trappings” by Noelle Kocot
“Cut Shadows” by Ron Padgett
“Slam, Dunk, & Hook”
 by Yusef Komunyakaa
“Wish” by Hoa Nguyen

About the Poets

Noelle Kocot is the author of several poetry collections, including Ascent of the Mothers, God's Green Earth, Phantom Pains of Madness, Soul in Space, and The Bigger World. They have received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, The Fund for Poetry, the American Poetry Review, and the Lannan Foundation. Kocot has taught at the New Writers Project at the University of Texas and currently teaches in the Creative Writing Department at the New School. They are the poet laureate of Pemberton Borough, New Jersey.

Yusef Komunyakaa's numerous books of poems include Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999; Talking Dirty to the Gods; Thieves of Paradise, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and most recently, The Emperor of Water Clocks. His honors include the William Faulkner Prize, the Thomas Forcade Award, and the Hanes Poetry Prize; fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, where he served as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross. He is a senior faculty member in the NYU Creative Writing Program.

Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry, including A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, winner of the Canada Book Award and a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, National Book Award, and the Governor General’s Literary Award; As Long As Trees Last; Red Juice; and Violet Energy Ingots, which received a 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize nomination. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the United States, Nguyen has lived in Tkaronto since 2011.

Ron Padgett’s How Long was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry, and his Collected Poems won the LA Times Prize for the best poetry book of 2014 and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has also received the Poetry Society’s Shelley Memorial Award and Frost Medal. His translations include Zone: Selected Poems of Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars’s Complete Poems. Seven of his poems were used in Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson. New York City has been his home base since 1960.

Manuel Ulacia (1953–2001) was born in Mexico City. He was the grandson of Manuel Altolaguirre and Concha Mendez, members of Spain’s “Generation of ‘27.” Altolaguirre and Mendez became refugees of the Spanish Civil War, residing first in Cuba and then in Mexico. Ulacia was a protégé of Octavio Paz and later president of PEN’s Mexico chapter. His selected poems Origami was translated by Indran Amirthanayagam.

Inaugural Installation

In this first year of the project, the Poetry Society and NYC Parks placed poems in five public parks: Clason Point Park (Bronx), Valentino Pier Park (Brooklyn), Sunken Playground (Manhattan), Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island), and Francis Lewis Park (Queens). Poets featured in the installations hail from around the world, and non-English works are presented in both the original language and English translation. 

Featured Poems

“Dark Light / Oscura luz”
by Francisco X. Alarcón
“I Was Never Able to Pray”
by Edward Hirsch
by W.S. Merwin
Six Tankas
by Harryette Mullen
“I Sit Here”
by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Kronovet

The Poetry Society’s programs are made possible by the generous support of The Destina Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, the Hawthornden Foundation, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Lyric Foundation, Humanities NY, Hyde & Watson, and the Bydale Foundation, as well as public support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. We are also grateful for the ongoing support of our members and individual donors.