By Carol Yost
I kept wondering what the heck that odd yellow pipe, seemingly coming up out of the sidewalk, on Ruth E Wittenberg Plaza (the triangular traffic island at 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue, across from the garden by the Jefferson Market Library), was all about, but I just kept walking by. What I found out when I finally stopped to take a look was that it was an installation that allowed passersby the opportunity to hear 20 famous poets, who all once called the Village home, read their own work.
It’s quite an experience to hear a poet’s voice coming out of that pipe. Heading the list is Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was named after a former local landmark. Across the street from where St. Vincent’s Hospital once stood, where the AIDS Memorial Park is now, there was a plaque stating that her middle name honored St. Vincent’s Hospital (which has recently been converted into condominiums) for saving her uncle’s life before she was born.
Typically there’s some unusual artwork there, sponsored by a city agency. This case was no different. The Poetry Jukebox is sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Transportation, The Village Alliance and Czech Tourism.
Below are some poems you can enjoy:
Edna St. Vincent Millay—Love is Not All
Emma Lazarus—The New Colossus
Hart Crane—The Brooklyn Bridge
James Baldwin—Sonny Blues