New art installation is a tranquil sanctuary in the heart of Times Square

March 22, 2022

Rendering of Raúl Cordero’s Public Art Project, The Poem. Courtesy of the artist and Times Square Arts.

Take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of the city at this new public art installation opening in Times Square. Next month, Times Square Arts will debut Raúl Cordero’s The Poema large-scale sculptural tower with illuminated text in its interior and cascading foliage on its exterior, reminiscent of a temple sanctuary. Guests step into the artwork and look up through 20 feet of cascading mountain laurel foliage only to see the night sky and the lines of a haiku fixed to the walls. The Poem is on view from April 8 through May 4.

Rendering of Raúl Cordero’s Public Art Project, The Poem. Courtesy by the artist and Times Square Arts.

For The Poem, Cordero has created a special alphabet comprised of illegible characters meant to “toy with the human brain,” symbolizing the artist’s belief that modern technology has rewired the brain.

“It’s difficult to create meaningful art for people in an era when their attention is scattered across so many mediums and technologies simultaneously,” Cordero said in a statement. “The Poem seeks to stop time, reminding us that humans also have the capacity to invest in one thing at a time — like listen to “the secret dialogue of trees” (as put poetically by Reinaldo Arenas) and read a haiku, even when standing in the center of Times Square.”

The tower features a landscaped exterior of foliage designed by Canal Gardens Inc. and a haiku written by poet Barry Schwabsky on the inside, seen by stepping into the structure. The content of the haiku concerns “the minute nuances of sense and sensation in the overlooked elements of language, balancing thoughtful details with the complexities of art,” according to a press release.

The Poem is dedicated to one of Cordero’s artistic inspirations, fellow Cuban and poet Reinaldo Arenas, known for writing poems while sitting in a tree. To accompany the project, Cordero will be presenting free public programming and text-based video works across billboards featuring New York City’s diverse community of poets.


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