Poetry in Motion: Verse Has Returned to New York’s Subways


If reading books or papers on the train doesn’t quite satisfy your lit fix, Runnin’ Scared has some wonderful news!

Shortly after launching a new arts in transit app, the MTA today announced the restoration of Poetry in Motion, which places poems alongside art in the transportation system.

Poetry in Motion, which operated from 1992 to 2008, was so greatly missed that the MTA’s Arts for Transit and Urban Design team decided to bring it back, group director Sandra Bloodworth tells Runnin’ Scared.

“I would often be out in public and have people constantly saying to me: ‘When is the poetry coming back? ‘ It was a very personal plea,” she says. “I think throughout the MTA, various staffers and leadership heard this loud and clear.”

So how will this work? Starting with Dorothea Tanning’s “Graduation,” the works will be displayed in the poster wells, so they are eye level with seated riders. With the program’s relaunch comes changes, too — around 11 percent of MetroCards will feature the pieces. They will also appear in animated form at several digital “travel stations” such as Grand Central Terminal and Bowling Green.

Poetry in Motion does not create additional expenses for the MTA, but the authority is looking for a sponsor to help expand the program, Bloodworth says.

“Right now, we just have the poem and the logos on the back. With a sponsor, we would be able to print colorful art along with the poetry.”

Eight poems will be featured yearly, and the next will debut in April. The Poetry Society of America will work with the MTA to pick the selected work. The Society, Bloodworth says, will seek a very diverse range of poems, and pieces will be considered so long as the author has published at least one poem.

The MTA plans on making Poetry in Motion permanent.

And here is Tanning’s poem, if you’re interested (and you should be!):

“He told us, with the years, you will come

to love the world.

And we sat there with our souls in our laps,

and comforted them.”

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