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On high-tech LinkNYC kiosks, poems from the unheard & unseen

April 16, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
National Poetry Month brings a bit of unexpected magic to LinkNYC’s sidewalk kiosks. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

LinkNYC kiosks are 9-1/2-foot-high monoliths of technology that allow New Yorkers to make free phone calls, use public Wi-Fi and access services such as maps.

But this month they are also displaying poems by New Yorkers who are more often unheard and unseen — those affected by HIV/AIDS and other chronic health conditions, substance abusers and public school children.

The poems, which pop up in between weather and train announcements, bring a bit of unexpected magic to the sidewalk kiosks.

Unicorns are real
They are everywhere
You should pay more attention

– Samaria (eighth grade)
I.S. 392, Brooklyn

The city and LinkNYC are collaborating with nonprofits The Alliance for Positive Change and the Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) to celebrate National Poetry Month with the displays. These groups offer creative writing workshops that allow adults and children to express their feelings and life stories through poetry.

“Teachers & Writers Cooperative works in multiple schools every year,” Amy Swauger, executive director of T&W, told the Brooklyn Eagle. The Brooklyn-based group offers several programs at each site.

For years, T&W writers have brought writing residencies and professional development workshops to 760,000 students and 26,000 teachers in New York City schools. This year in Brooklyn, the group is offering 12 programs in five schools.

A poor man wishes and
he wishes for a dime.
Why not the world?
Why not the world?

– Delicia & Nysha (ninth grade), 697K Teachers Prep High School, Brooklyn

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The poems are running on more than 1,500 active LinkNYC kiosks across the five boroughs.

“We are grateful to the poets who are generously sharing their gifts with their fellow city dwellers and visitors,” Samir Saini, commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, said in a release Monday.

Link’s President Jen Hensley said the company hopes that those who pass by the Links and read the poems “will be inspired, moved and delighted by poems of strength, healing and personal expression.”

What does it mean to be black
if in fact being black
can be tracked or attached

– Eric (fourth grade), P.S. 369, Brooklyn

Sharen Duke, executive director and CEO of The Alliance for Positive Change, said in a statement, “Poetry has the ability to change minds and lives, and is emblematic of our mission to help New Yorkers feel better, live better and do better.”

The Little Bird
One day at a time, things are
Getting a little better.
I hope to find the light at the end
Of the tunnel, like the bird, and
Be free.

– Latisha Cooper, The Alliance for Positive Change

To read more poetry by New York’s unheard and unseen, visit any sidewalk LinkNYC kiosk.

 

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