Poem Forest Brings Poetry To Life At Guggenheim Lab

“I’ve always felt that poetry is not an art object to be idly studied,” writes artist Jon Cotner. “Rather, it’s a way of life, a mode of knowing—a call to become more attentive and active.”

Acting on this sentiment, Cotner created a “Poem Forest,” a living example of poetry, in the New York Botanical Garden, this past fall.

Cotner’s installation takes classic lines from poetry and imposes them on a 20 minute walk through the park. He explains his intent on the BMW Guggenheim blog: “Poetry can wake us, and in the process we create a shared world or ‘the commons.’ But what characterizes this common world? How can we describe it? With such questions in mind, I shapedPoem Forest. A typical literary event wouldn’t work; it’s too easy to drift while others read their own prewritten material. Poem Forest needed to be more engaging. Otherwise it wouldn’t be poetic.”