From Poetry Magazine

On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens: An Interactive Poetry Installation

By Katherine Litwin
Photo of Poetry Foundation's interior gallery space, showing hanging poems as part of The Franklin Park Conservatory installation.

Since the end of June, the Poetry Foundation has been home to On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens: An Interactive Poetry Installation. This exhibition marks our first time building an installation around a single poem in the gallery space.  As a visualization of Khaty Xiong’s poem about visiting a garden to find the ghost of her recently deceased mother, it is our hope to provide a space for visitors to share what Xiong refers to as “that darkness that is encouraged to be kept hidden.” Guests are invited to send messages to lost loved ones by sharing original poems on paper templates of plants, animals and insects.  Here are some of the messages that guests have left since the opening with photographs below:

 

I have lots of
questions I never
got to ask you.
How did you end up
in North Dakota?
What is your
favorite flower?

*

Puerto Rico
4645— Deaths

*

I have nothing
to say to the dead.
 
I only grieve
the living. We don’t
talk and I won’t
 
talk and the ghosts
of strangers follow me.

*

I light
a
candle
and
smell
your
perfume
every
day

 

In the following conversation, APAC Curator Lawrence Minh Bùi Davis and Xiong discuss the exhibition, the ways that we do and do not allow space for grief in our lives, how we carry the sadness of our families, and many other things. Have a listen here: 

 

 

Originally Published: August 9th, 2018