In The Park, his second book of poetry, John Freeman uses a park as a petri dish, turning a deep gaze on all that pass through it. In language both precise and restrained, Freeman explores the inherent contradictions that arise from a place whose purpose is derived purely from what we bring to it--a park is both natural and constructed, exclusionary and open, unfeeling and burdened with sentimentality. Pulling from both history and his own meditations in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, the seasons pass through famous parks, personal parks, parks beneath parks, and other spaces with fabricated outer limits. Throughout, Freeman wonders at how a park, being both curated and public, can be a nexus for a manifestation of great wealth inequality. How have we created these false boundaries for ourselves--with regard to physical space, but also in our minds and societies, in our personal relationships? Freeman plucks out difference in small daily dramas of people and animals only to dissolve it. Interspersed with meditations on love, beauty, and connection, The Park is a pacific and unflinching mirror cast upon a space defined by its transience.
About the Author
John Freeman is the founder of Freeman's, the literary annual of new writing, and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. The author and editor of ten books, his work includes the poetry collection Maps and the book-length essay Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as several anthologies: among them are Tales of Two Americas, a volume on inequality in America, Tales of Two Planets, which examines the climate crisis globally, and There's a Revolution Outside, My Love, co-edited by Tracy K. Smith, an intimate portrait of the U.S. on the cusp of revolution, climate crisis and the upheavals of a pandemic. He teaches at NYU.