The Park

John Freeman

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.

ISBN: 9781556595950

Format: Paperback

Listen to John Freeman read his poem “The Folded Wing” from The Park:

About the Author

John Freeman is the founder of the literary annual Freeman’s, and an executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. His books include How To Read a Novelist and Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as a trilogy of anthologies about inequality, including Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, and Tales of Two Planets, which features dispatches from around the world, where the climate crisis has unfolded at crucially different rates. His poetry collections include Maps and The Park. His work has been translated into more …

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“This second poetry collection by the editor of the biannual literary journal Freeman’s dwells on the symbolism of places where the human and natural worlds intersect: ‘A park’s / purpose is to temper the machine / in us.'” —The New York Times

“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

“Freeman has a strong sense of the way boundaries reflect and enforce privilege and history, and the international devastation wrought by the pandemic make his insightful voice all the more timely.” —The Rumpus

As featured in:

The New York Times, “New & Noteworthy Poetry”

Literary Hub, “Our 65 Favorite Books of the Year”