The Best of Poetry in Motion: Celebrating 25 Years on Subways and Buses is a newly published anthology of 100 poems. Edited by PSA Executive Director Alice Quinn, the book includes half of the 200 plus poems and much of the history of the popular, trademarked joint venture between the Poetry Society of America and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Since the New York debut in 1992, Poetry in Motion also has appeared in more than 25 other cities across the nation. A sampling of those poems are searchable by city and poem title on the Poetry in Motion atlas.
Many of the poets featured in the new anthology will read their contributions and relay their stories on Oct. 25 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center. Poets include Aracelis Girmay, Major Jackson, Jim Moore, Paul Muldoon, Marilyn Nelson, Patrick Phillips, and Katha Pollitt. Return to The Best American Poetry blog for those reactions during the next few days.
Since 2012, art commissioned by MTA Arts & Design is paired with the poems. Two new poems appear each quarter and also are displayed on roughly five percent of MetroCards, potentially reaching 1.7 billion transit riders annually. Poet and artists bios available at https://web.mta.info/mta/aft/poetry/poetry.html.
Unexpected encounters with a poem in transit can "provide a sudden sense of mental and even spiritual nourishment by connecting us with the deeply human realms of love and loss, joy and death," Billy Collins writes in a forward to the anthology. The MTA has twice commissioned poems by Collins for the 100th anniversary of Grand Central and the opening of the new Second Avenue Subway.
Poetry in Motion aims to be a moment of contemplation or whimsy and offers a respite from the daily onslaught of advertising. Collins : "The poem is not a pitch, but an offering, a gift."
Catherine Woodard is the author of Opening the Mouth of the Dead, a story in poems recently published by lone goose press in two editions: paperback and limited-edition book art. She helped return Poetry in Motion to the New York City subways and is a vice president of the Poetry Society of America. Her poems have appeared in literary journals, anthologies and CNN online. A former journalist, Woodard chairs an advisory committee for the News Literacy Project.