A year of confinement and circumscription, 2020 has altered New Yorkers’ relationship to place. KC Trommer, Nadia Q. Ahmad and Jared Harél are better equipped than most to capture this state of heightened site-specificity. The three writers are, respectively, the founder and board members of Queensbound, a collaborative effort to showcase poets from the eponymous borough. Launched in 2018, the project maps individual writings onto subway stops throughout Queens, reframing the connective tissue of public space as something with a deeper emotional resonance. Conceived as a blend of audio recordings, in-situ readings, and other live events, like most things this year, Queensbound has lived more online than in physical space. Yet to hear Trommer, Ahmad, and Harél tell it, the spirit of public space — those negotiations and celebrations of difference; those struggles and joys of common pursuit — remains much more than a literary device. Along with works by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Meera Nair, and Malcolm Chang, we hear about what it means to bring poetry to the people of Queens, whether by train or web browser.
The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.