Poetry News

Jon Cotner's Poem Forest at the New York Botanical Gardens

By Harriet Staff


Our favorite walker and talker Jon Cotner is at it again! The Poetry Society of America has invited Cotner to design a walk for the New York Botanical Garden's Thain Family Forest Dedication Festival, which takes place this November 5-6 and the next weekend too, on November 12-13. This walk has a different spin (if you will) from those Cotner has done in the past, though it does build on the structure of Spontaneous Society. This one, called Poem Forest, is a fifteen-minute meditative walk wherein Cotner has "fused lines selected from 2,500 years of nature poetry with Thain Forest’s autumnal landscape. At 15 spots along Sweetgum Trail, visitors will speak, sing, or variously engage with 15 lines that encourage them to see and sense more clearly, to inhabit the present more deeply, and to fill with enchantment over the course of this walking meditation." You'll be speaking the lines at corresponding spots. Prepare now! Some of the lines include the following:

“Like a dog / Cézanne says / that’s how a painter / must see”
–W.G. Sebald

“Under the trees / under the clouds / by the river”
–Gary Snyder

“One stone is not like another.”
–Denise Levertov

“What meadow yields / so fragrant a leaf / as your bright leaf?”

“It isn’t true that Nature is mute.”
–Eugenio Montale

“Robins, starlings, wrens, warblers / they pay no rent”
–Bernadette Mayer

“Walking, walking, walking, / I shall spend my life”
–Pablo Neruda

“Turning seasons turning wildly / away”
–T’ao Ch’ien

“O grace of wild, wild things”

“To be spellbound – nothing’s easier.”
–Tomas Tranströmer

That's only ten out of 15, and we're already entranced. To participate, head down to the self-guided Poem Forest at the NYBG from 12-4:30 on Nov. 5-6 and 12-13. Admission is free with All Garden Pass admission to the Botanical Garden. For directions, visit their site.

Originally Published: November 3rd, 2011