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Photo montage featuring a seashore, the desert, sunset over a lake and others. Photos
A montage of the national parks chosen for Limón’s project. Photos by NPS photographers.

Poetry in National Parks: Ada Limón’s New Project

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Ada Limón’s signature project as the U.S. Poet Laureate, “You Are Here,” will feature two major new initiatives: an anthology of nature poems and poetry installed as public art in seven national parks.

“I want to champion the ways reading and writing poetry can situate us in the natural world,” Limón said. “Never has it been more urgent to feel a sense of reciprocity with our environment, and poetry’s alchemical mix of attention, silence, and rhythm gives us a reciprocal way of experiencing nature — of communing with the natural world through breath and presence.”

A new anthology, “You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World,” will be published by Milkweed Editions in association with the Library next spring, on April 2. It will feature original poems by 50 contemporary American poets, including former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Pulitzer Prize winner Diane Seuss, and PEN/Voelcker Award winner Rigoberto González, who reflect on and engage with their particular local landscape. As Limón said, “With poems written for vast and inspiring vistas to poems acknowledging the green spaces that flourish even in the most urban of settings, this anthology hopes to reimagine what ‘nature poetry’ is during this urgent moment on our planet.”

“You Are Here: Poetry in Parks,” an initiative with the National Park Service and the Poetry Society of America, will feature site-specific poetry installations in seven national parks across the country. These installations, which will transform picnic tables into works of public art, will each feature a historic American poem that connects in a meaningful way to the park and will “encourage visitors to pay deeper attention to their surroundings,” according to Limón.

Participating national parks are:

  • Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts)
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee)
  • Everglades National Park (Florida)
  • Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
  • Redwood National and State Parks (California)
  • Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

Limón will travel to each of the  parks in the summer and fall of 2024 to unveil the new installations.

“In this moment when the natural world is making headlines, Ada Limón’s signature project will help us connect more personally to America’s greatest parks as well as show how the poets of our time capture the natural world in their own lives,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “It also extends our laureate’s engagement with federal agencies and literary partners, to promote poetry to the nation.”

Head and shoulders portrait of Ada Limon. She is wearing a blue and yellow dress and looks to the photographer's right
Ada Limón. Photo: Shawn Miller.

Limón has a number of major collaborations under way to share poetry with the public. In June, she returned to the Library to reveal “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” which she wrote for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. Limón’s poem will be engraved on the spacecraft that will travel 1.8 billion miles to explore Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. The poem is part of NASA’s “Message in a Bottle” campaign, which has gathered more than 450,000 signatures from people around the world signing on to the poem. The campaign will run through 2023.

For National Poetry Month, Limón has served as the guest editor for the Akcademy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series in a first-ever series collaboration between the Academy and the Library.

Limón was born in Sonoma, California, in 1976 and is of Mexican ancestry. She is the author of six poetry collections, including “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2018. began her first term as poet laureate in September 2022. During her term, she participated in two events hosted by the first lady of the United States for the National Student Poets Program and for the state visit with Brigette Macron, wife of the president of France. Limón also participated in an event hosted by Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, wife of the president of Mexico, for the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City, and she participated in a conversation with Argentine and Brazilian poets for the Library’s Palabra Archive.

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Comments (7)

  1. Great 👍🏻❤️

  2. This is fantastic news on so many levels. Connecting poetry to parks, and using writing and art to celebrate nature, will spark all kinds of inspiration and reflection. Thank you, Ada!
    Kevin H

  3. Dinosaur Monument
    Drove down a dark winding road to a campsite…
    Woke up to a wall of sunlight, a canyon and river still but not silently through the flap and webbing of our tent no grey jays, wildlife just our holy trinity

  4. Four Corners
    Not the Earth’s four imagined corners but a flee market in a desert in not Az NM Co … But sunblanchedinfinity

  5. El Capitan by Copeland or Stieglitz photography pictures not at an exhibition capped by the sun’s glow framed and narrated. solemnity

  6. Crepes in the morning crabs and pie oceanography lobsters undying til steam cracked wood and picked through fireworks round Cadillac Mountain blueberries too tidewater samples wading in pools squids’ eyes seen through…

  7. Please tell me WHERE in the Smoky Mt. Nat’l Park Ada will be on July 20? I want to be there.

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