Khaty Xiong

On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Based on the poem that appeared in the July/August 2017 Asian American Poets issue of Poetry magazine, On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is an interactive art installation that asks visitors to reflect on and write notes to loved ones they have recently lost.


Thursday, June 21, 2018 – Friday, September 14, 2018

Poetry Foundation
61 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654


About the Exhibition

Step inside the poem “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens” by Khaty Xiong. This immersive exhibit presents a visualization of Xiong’s poem about visiting a garden to find the ghost of her recently deceased mother.

Guests are invited to send messages to lost loved ones by sharing original poems on paper templates of plants, animals and insects. These messages will be added to the installation, creating an ever-changing experience. Listen to a recording of Xiong reading and discussing her poem and record your own messages on grief. This provides guests a space to grieve and a place to think about how we engage with personal and collective loss.

The title poem appeared in the July/August 2017 Asian American Poets issue of Poetry magazine.

Khaty Xiong poem installation by Sonnenzimmer
Paper templates designed by Nathan Kawanishi
Custom display by Edra Soto

A collaboration between the Poetry Foundation, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) and visitors to the exhibit.


 About the Poet

Khaty Xiong was born to Hmong refugees from Laos and is the seventh daughter of fifteen brothers and sisters. She is the author of debut collection Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), which is the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States. She has received a fellowship from The MacDowell Colony (2017) and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2016) in recognition of her poetry. Xiong’s work has been featured in POETRYThe New York Times and How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), including the following websites, Poetry Society of America, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere.


A part of the experience

Inscribe a message to a lost loved one on one or more of the downloadable templates.

Contributors from throughout the country were invited to print and mail their notes to be a part of the exhibition’s opening in June 2018.