Last weekend the Queens Museum kicked off the “Poets in the Galleries” series, an interactive exploration of the Queens International 2013 exhibition in which poets lead gallery walkthroughs, stopping at artwork that interests them and reading accompanying texts.
The series was curated by Queens Poet Laureate Paolo Javier, and will feature poets Tan Lin, Stephen Motika, Charles Bernstein and Patricia Spears Jones.
Javier, who also curated the same series three years ago, has long been interested in interdisciplinary art of this kind.
He believes that poets in particular are “able to move fluidly through different artistic disciplines,” and curating the series is, for him, “a pleasure and a privilege.”
Audience interaction is a primary goal of “Poets in the Galleries,” making for an active and engaging experience. During Tan Lin’s tour, audience members discussed and interpreted different works, and volunteers gave readings of poetry and prose chosen by Lin.
These readings ranged from a poem comprising every tweet ever hashtagged “McNugget,” a few pages from the cookbook “How to Cook and Eat in Chinese,” and a bibliography of spam emails.
Because the tours take place in the newly re-opened and bustling Queens Museum, expect surprises along the way. Lin happened to spot the artist Liu Ho-Jang just as the group was looking at Ho-Jang’s work, and called him over to introduce him. The tour later took a short break to watch the performance of an Aztec ritual blessing that had started outside the galleries.
“I just got into the whole groove of it,” Awilda Aponte, who attended the tour, said. “I love poetry, I write poetry … it was a lot of fun, I participated, and I actually read, so I’m still happy about that.”
Overall, “Poets in the Galleries” offers a quintessentially Queens experience, not just because it highlights Queens-based artists and artwork, but also because, like the borough itself, it presents artistic diversity and creative experimentation.
Sharmin Akhter, a lifetime Queens resident, said the series, and the museum, “made me proud to be from Queens.”
When: Nov. 16, Dec. 7 and 14, 2 p.m.
Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Tickets: Free with museum admission