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The Language of Conservation (Poetry in the Zoos)

The Language of Conservation (Poetry in the Zoos) is a Poets House program designed to deepen public awareness of environmental issues through poetry. The Language of Conservation expands Poets House's role as a place for poetry by creating permanent poetry installations in zoos, which are complemented by poetry, nature and conservation resources and programs at public libraries.

Working with five zoos and four public libraries in New Orleans, LA Milwaukee, WI, Little Rock, AR, Jacksonville, FL, and Chicago, IL, Poets-in-Residence collaborated with wildlife biologists and exhibit designers to curate exhibitions in zoos that feature poems celebrating the natural world and the connection between species.

Language of Conservation Poets-in-Residence

Curators of the poetry installations, the Poets-in-Residence were Mark Doty in New Orleans, LA Joseph Bruchac in Little Rock, AR, Alison Hawthorne Deming in Jacksonville, FL, Pattiann Rogers in Milwaukee, WI, and Project Leader Sandra Alcosser in Brookfield, IL (just outside of Chicago). The Chicago-based American Library Association collaborated with Poets House to share the outcomes of the project—which is designed to be replicated—with libraries throughout the United States and beyond. The Language of Conservation was made possible with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. This partnership between poetry and science began as a successful program developed by Poets House and the Wildlife Conservation Society that incorporated poetry into wildlife exhibits at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Through the Central Park Zoo project, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers discovered that the use of poetry installations made zoo visitors dramatically more aware of the impact humans have on ecosystems.

Read The Language of Collaboration: Connecting Zoos, Libraries, and Poetry for Environmental Awareness at the Programming Librarian website

Purchase a copy of The Language of Conservation: Poetry in Library and Zoo Collaborations, edited by Poets House Managing Director Jane Preston

PDF of The Language of Conservation: Poetry in Library and Zoo Collaborations, edited by Jane Preston