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Richard Wright Haikus on Display on Brooklyn Streets

The haikus are being displayed through a series of murals on Brooklyn buildings, celebrating Wright’s short poems.
A Richard Wright haiku on display in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: Supplied.

A series of haikus written by prominent Brooklyn writer Richard Wright have been put on public display through murals across the borough's buildings.

The Seeing Into Tomorrow series, which sees the short poems displayed across seven sites in Brooklyn, commemorates the achievements of Wright, while also inspiring residents and visitors to read the city in new ways, the organizers Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), DUMBO Improvement District (Dumbo) and The Poetry Society of America said in a statement.

Wright, best known for his searing depictions of racial injustice in books such as Native Son and Black Boy, spent the final 18 months of his life in 1960 creating his own distinctive versions of haiku, the traditional Japanese verse form.

Over that time, he wrote over 4,000 of the short poems.

Wright's haikus are a defiant act of hope in the midst of his experiences of racial injustice, a crossing of cultures and traditions that 60 years later continues to offer us a vision for a different "tomorrow," the organizers said.

The project builds on the Poetry Society's work of creating innovative public poetry projects to serve new and underserved audiences, the organizers said in a statement.

"Seeing Into Tomorrow showcases the poems of Richard Wright in dramatic and unexpected ways, bringing together neighborhoods and communities through the power of imaginative language," Matt Brogan, executive director of the Poetry Society said.

The poems are displayed on Willoughby Plaza; the Jay St. subway entrance on the corner of Jay St. and Fulton St.; at 1 DeKalb, City Point; on Mark Morris Rockwell Place; BRIC Arts Media on Rockwell Place; Whitman at 4 Star Candy Deli; and Whitman at Ten Star Deli.

President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Regina Myer said Wright's poems and legacy were an important piece of Brooklyn's history and "Seeing Into Tomorrow will breathe new life into our public spaces through the powerful forces of art and language."

Seeing Into Tomorrow is one of twelve new public art and performance projects and five accessibility upgrades to cultural venues in Downtown Brooklyn as part of the Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund led by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District.

The fund was one of the projects selected as part of New York State's $10 million Downtown Brooklyn Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), which seeks to connect and transform downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities.


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