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Prospect Park Poetry Partnership to Explore History of Lefferts Historic House, Elevate Diverse Voices

Four poets have been selected to produce work about Prospect Park that they will share with the Brooklyn community
Lefferts Historic House was by enslaved Africans in the late-1700s. Photo: Wikimedia.

A new partnership between Prospect Park Alliance and a poetry nonprofit dedicated to poems centered on the land will see four poets writing specifically about Brooklyn’s biggest park.

Writing the Land and Prospect Park Alliance have commissioned Black poet Rachelle Parker, and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet and Ty Defoe to engage in a dialogue about the park and its history through their poetry.

From left to right: Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet, Rachelle Parker, Ty Defoe. Photo: Supplied.

The Alliance said in a statement that the partnership with Writing the Land, which fosters collaboration between the environmental and creative communities through poetry, was a stage for diverse voices and connected to the Alliance’s Re-Imagine Lefferts initiative.

The initiative, which is currently underway, aims to re-envision the mission and programming of the park’s historic house museum in order to recognize its role as a site of slavery. The resulting mission and programming aims to elevate the voices of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked the land, and the Indigenous people that were forced to leave their ancestral lands at the time of Dutch colonization, the Alliance said.

Maria Carrasco, the Alliance’s vice president of public programs, said poetry was empowering and the perfect vehicle for engaging the community in contemplating the viewpoints of traditionally unheard voices.

“The spoken word can provide members of our community with new ways of thinking, and hopefully will encourage them to actively participate in social change and civic engagement here in the park and beyond,” Carrasco said.

The poets will spend the next several months visiting the park and creating poems inspired by the land, which will culminate in a reading in the park in October. Prospect Park poets will be featured performers, and they will give a sneak peek of some poems they are preparing for the Writing the Land Anthology to be published in December.

Writing the Land Director Lis McLoughlin said the poets were looking forward to building bridges between the park and those who love and use it.

”Prospect Park is an amazing resource for its community and beyond, and we were delighted to find they were very open to using poetry as a way to highlight the great work they do,” McLoughlin said in a statement.