Poet Laureate and Past Fellow Ada Limón Returns to Provincetown to Launch “You Are Here”

“You Are Here: Poetry in Parks” 

Signature Project of U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón

Past Fine Arts Work Center Fellow Ada Limón is set to embark on her signature project as the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States. A writer long-known for poems that revere the natural world and illuminate the deep connections between humanity and our planet, Limón has conceived of an ambitious two-part project that both joyfully honors our world and calls attention to the challenges facing our planet. In April, Milkweed Editions, in association with the Library of Congress, published the project’s opening act: You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World, an anthology Limón compiled that features 50 new poems by 53 contemporary poets. Contributors to the anthology include the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, as well as many poets who have served as FAWC faculty members, including Carl Phillips, Dorianne Laux, Monica Youn, and Diane Seuss.


The project’s second part, which kicks off this June, is a companion piece to the anthology. You Are Here: Poetry in Parks, an initiative with the National Park Service and the Poetry Society of America, brings poetry directly to the public by transforming picnic tables into works of art in seven National Parks. Each picnic table will feature a poem by a prominent poet who has a meaningful connection to the landscape. Throughout the remainder of the year, Limón will visit each of these parks to mark the launch of these public artworks and connect with local communities. 


In describing her hopes for her signature project as Poet Laureate, Limón speaks about the complexity of our present moment, holding space for both celebration and grief. She says: “I believe the way we respond to this crucial moment on our planet could define humanity forever. In conceiving of my signature project, I wanted something that could both praise our sacred and natural wonders and also speak the complex truths of this urgent time. It’s my hope that You Are Here will do just that. You Are Here: Poetry in the Parks aims to deepen our connection to nature through poetry, and You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World is an anthology that speaks to the many different ways we are nature too. It may seem easier to surrender to the overwhelm of the world’s challenges right now, but I believe that singing out, offering something back to the earth, noticing our connection to the planet, could help us all move forward together in a powerful way.”


It’s fitting that the first stop on Limón’s tour takes her to Provincetown, a landscape that has been meaningful to her ever since completing a Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center during the 2001-2002 season. Limón often alludes to Provincetown across her varied body of poems, as in “Lies About Sea Creatures” (I lied about the whales. Fantastical blue / water-dwellers, big slow moaners of the coastal. / I never saw them. Not once that whole frozen year.), or in “After His Ex Died,” which mentions a deep affection for Herring Cove. She chose the late Mary Oliver, beloved Provincetown poet and member of the Fine Arts Work Center Writing Committee, to represent the Cape Cod National Seashore for Poetry in the Parks. Oliver’s “Can You Imagine?” will grace the picnic table installation in Provincetown’s Beech Forest.  


On Friday, June 14, 2024, we will celebrate the launch of You Are Here with a reading by Ada Limón in the Stanley Kunitz Common Room, followed by a book signing. Tickets for this free event can be found here and the event will also be livestreamed. 


The Fine Arts Work Center has been honored for over fifty years to bring together writers and artists to build community and create art that changes our culture. We are grateful that our founder, Stanley Kunitz, who served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate (1974-1976 and 2000-2001), had the vision to bring FAWC to life. The short and illustrious list of past Fellows who have been named Poet Laureate includes Louise Glück, a member of the inaugural fellowship cohort, and now the luminous Ada Limón. 


After a recent visit to the Work Center, Limón reflected on the vital importance of fostering community, inspired by witnessing the camaraderie among the Fellows: “We need our communities, our support system, we need to both stare at the sea with each other and turn the music up and dance with each other. As I drove out of Provincetown that Friday morning, I found it hard to leave, but sometimes it’s enough to know it’s there, that a place like that exists.” 

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