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Coming Soon to the Guggenheim: Words, Words, Words

Although Mr. Johnson began his yearlong residency in January, some of his projects are still gestating.

“I’m interested in the way this building is participatory,” he said.

“When I’m thinking about poetry,” he added, “I think about immersive experiences, I’m thinking about setting up a world of language in which I’m kind of shaken outside myself.”

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Visitors may be shaken, too. For the pop-up readings, which will take place every two months — the first, with the poets Jenny Xie, Xan Phillips and Imani Elizabeth Jackson, is on May 21 — Mr. Johnson has suggested that the visiting writers use a bullhorn. Poems will also be available as audio recordings, and Mr. Johnson said he hoped eventually to enlist museumgoers in reading and recording various poets’ work in the former phone booths on the Guggenheim’s first floor. Participants will then “leave a prompt for another stranger to record a poem,” he said, perhaps from a database of choices.

Mr. Johnson is not, however, interested in showcasing his own work, except in a profile on the museum’s digital guide. Instead, his residency will highlight poets he admires, especially those whose work bridges more than one discipline. For instance, a Guggenheim panel on June 22, “Spirit of Movement,” will feature Harmony Holiday, jaamil olawale kosoko and Jayson P. Smith, writers who are involved in dance and performance.

Mr. Johnson will also engage aspiring poets who stroll through the Guggenheim’s doors. Having previously taught writing in public schools in Washington, D.C., his home city, he will lead workshops for teenagers at the museum.

But visitors need not be young to pick up a pencil. In December, the Guggenheim converted its Aye Simon Reading Room into an interactive poetry space. The staff filled the room, formerly an art library, with volumes of poetry, as well as notecards, colored pencils and sheets with creative prompts.

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