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.
Listen to John Freeman read his poem “The Folded Wing” from The Park:
“A fine collection of spare, somber lyrics from an important figure in contemporary writing; with this volume, Freeman steps forward for merited attention as a poet in his own right.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Perfect to take with you to your local park bench come spring, or whenever you need to recover a little humanity.” —Literary Hub
“Atmospheric… These meditative poems offer a thoughtful exploration on the contradictions and connections formed in public spaces.” —Publishers Weekly
“Freeman deftly stages his urbane poems of rumination over, even celebration of, the complexities of life… Delight and humor abound… There is wistfulness in these poems, though they never become mired in shadows of what is lost or gone.” —Booklist
“Freeman’s pensive volume is a fascinating consideration of the park as a place of preserved wilderness… [L]ayers abound in these considerations of wild spaces.” —The Millions