(NEW YORK) — On Thursday, April 21 at 6pm, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), PEN International, and Times Square Arts will hold an outdoor evening of poetry to celebrate Cuban artist Raúl Cordero’s public art installation, THE POEM, and the poetry community in New York City.

THE POEM is a large-scale sculptural tower covered in a cascade of mountain laurel hosting an illuminated poem inside. THE POEM is both inspired by and dedicated to fellow Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, who was forced into exile by the Cuban government. 

The evening will feature short readings from poets Jaime Manrique, Eloisa Amezcua, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and Maya Pope, and a vigil in solidarity with artists targeted by the Cuban government amidst the ongoing crackdown on creative expression.

WHAT: Outdoor reading of poetry & vigil in solidarity with Cuban artists 

WHERE: Father Duffy Square, 7th Ave & W 47th Street, New York, NY 

WHEN: Thursday, April 21 at 6pm EST

THE POEM is commissioned by Times Square Arts with generous support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in part through support from Morgan Stanley, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world’s most iconic urban places. Through the Square’s electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas, popular venues, and the Alliance’s own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono, and Kehinde Wiley, to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation, and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district’s unique identity. 

The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America, safeguards the right to artistic freedom of expression around the world and works to ensure that artists of all disciplines everywhere can live and work without fear. With a global network of 800 organizations providing crucial resources for artists and cultural practitioners at risk, ARC plays the critical role of liaising between threatened artists and the organizations that support them. Since its inception, ARC has supported more than 500 artists from over 63 countries in receiving direct support, including fellowships and residencies, emergency funds, legal assistance, and advocacy, among other forms of assistance. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC and read the Safety Guide for Artists, available in Spanish, English and French, to understand, navigate and prepare for risk. 

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, PEN is a global community of writers that now spans more than 100 countries. PEN’s campaigns, events, publications, and programs aim to connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world, and to defend and provide essential support to those who are persecuted for their writing. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds special consultative status at the United Nations. One hundred years since its foundation, today PEN is recognized as the world’s foremost association of writers, as well as a leading international charity and expert on freedom of expression. 


Suzanne Trimel

Consultant, Communications + Media, PEN America


Ali Rigo

Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel


Lauren Gagnon

Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel