Friday, May 8, 2015

Transport It: Poetry on Wheels

We’re sitting on a London underground train, either the Circle or the District line, heading east toward the city from Westminster. My wife nudges me, motioning toward the ads that line both sides of each car’s ceiling. There amidst the notices for plays, perfume, music and whatever else the commercial marketing empire that is Western culture has to offer, is something completely unexpected.

A poem.

Since 1986, London Transport has sponsored “Poems on the Underground,” the brainstorm of an American writer, Judith Chernaik, back in 1986. It’s been going strong ever since. (You can even buy posters of the ads from the Museum of Transport Shop.) This year is a special focus on the poetry of William Butler Yeats for the 150th anniversary of his birth. A collection of the poems is published each year; the latest one was just published last month but takes about six weeks for delivery.

Somehow, the idea hopped the Atlantic. Poetry has shown up in public spaces in a number of American cities, and one of the best known is Seattle’s “Poetry on Buses,” which this year launched a road show with three different stops.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

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