Poetry rides the rails again in New York City.
After a four-year hiatus, Poetry in Motion is back in NYC subways, reinstated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America (PSA).
Re-imagined in NYC under the aegis of the MTA Arts for Transit, the poems are now partnered with art in the subway posters and also printed on the backs of three million MetroCards each season. That means 12 million poems in pockets annually. Which makes Arts for Transit by far the largest publisher of poems in the world. Graduation, a poem by Dorothea Tanning, paired with art by Joan Linder, is the restart.
One of the most popular public literary programs in American history, PSA’s Poetry in Motion launched poems in transit in more than 20 U.S. cities.
(My disclosure: My activism for Poetry in Motion began the moment I knew it disappeared in NYC and led me to the PSA board. As to my recent March Madness NCAA Basketball posts for this blog, I confess my favorite women’s and men’s teams are departed in the one-and-done tournament NCAA format. I needed rebirth.)
Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy organization, read a Robert Frost poem at the relaunch celebration in Grand Central Station.
“It brings a bit of the unexpected to the riders’ days,” Russianoff said. “I mean the good kind of unexpected.”
I’ll continue to count on the Straphangers to watch my back on how the MTA spends my money; Poetry in Motion to inspire, again.
Catherine Woodard has played coed, pickup basketball in New York City for three decades. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, RHINO and other journals. In 2011, Woodard was the featured poet at UnshodQuills.com, co-published Still Against War/Poems for Marie Ponsot and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She will be a 2012 fellow at the Hambidge Center in Georgia and is a board member of the Poetry Society of America. Woodard is a former president of Artists Space, one of the nation’s oldest spaces for emerging visual artists. Woodard has a MFA in poetry from the New School University and MS in journalism from Columbia University.