Poetry in parks

A slide showing nine book covers and featuring the description "Book List Women's History Month - Poetry"

Last week, the Library of Congress, in partnership with the National Parks Service and the Poetry Society of America, announced a major new initiative called “You Are Here.” This project has two faces: “You Are Here: Poetry in Parks” will create art installations of poetry in seven major national parks, and “You are Here: Poetry in the Natural World” anthologizes 50 major poets who have contributed to a new collection of nature poetry. This project launches in April as part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. 

There is also every reason this March to celebrate the project and its director, Ada Limón, as part of Women’s History Month: Ada Limón is both the first woman of Latin American ancestry to have been named Poet Laureate of the United States and the first U.S. Poet Laureate to be appointed for a second two-year term. So, this project representing Limón’s signature public initiative brings to a culmination her tenure in this esteemed role.

Those of us in New Jersey may feel left out, since none of the national parks selected are in our state. But at the Library of Congress webpage for this project, Limón suggests that there is a way for any of us to participate in this project, even if we cannot travel to one of the unveiling ceremonies in the national parks: As she explains, “…I hope people of all ages—poets and nonpoets—will feel moved to write their own response to the “You Are Here” prompt. It’s simple: What would you write in response to the landscape around you? You can share your response if you choose using the hashtag #youareherepoetry.” 

As spring arrives and the weather becomes more inviting, you may want to consider a visit to the Herrontown Woods, the Princeton Institute Woods, or, perhaps most appropriate of all, the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail. If you do take such a walk, consider taking up the “You Are Here” prompt and putting down some words in writing about the landscape around you.

If you need further inspiration and do not want to wait for the release of Limón’s new anthology, here is a booklist featuring poetry collections written by women who achieved the title of U.S. Poet Laureate. Check out the Women’s History Month Resource Guide as well, for additional booklists and education resources relating to the historic contributions of women.

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