Another reason to love NYC, and it involves the MTA

New York

Also, of course, the Poetry Society of America. Terrific news after a four-year hiatus, Poetry in Motion is back in the NYC Subways. Dorothea Tanning’s “Graduation,” first published in The Antioch Review in 2004 and collected in A Table of Content (Graywolf, 2004), is the first poem up. Paired with artwork, the poems will appear in the eye-level spaces in subway cars as well on the backs of MetroCards and in animated sequences at Penn Station and Grand Central. For more, including comments from Alice Quinn, see Clyde Haberman’s piece in the New York Times and the video at NY1.

Jean Valentine, in the NY1 story, says,”It’s a godsend, because there you are, you know, tired, or whatever, and there’s a poem to take you out of yourself and bring you to a good place.” Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Arts for Transit and Urban Design, emphasized how much riders had missed the Poetry In Motion program.

For me personally, the original Poetry In Motion postings in NYC subways and buses, were powerful in validating what I had been doing, turning to poetry for companionship and understanding, inspiration and reminders of beauty, humor and joy, as my family and I lived through the unrelenting assault of our older son’s still-undiagnosed degenerative illness. Moving to NYC in 2003, not formally educated in poetry, I had found it first in the bookstore adjacent to the Mayo Clinic in a trip there with our son, then in my father-in-law’s books when he died and I had the delightful task of sorting through the volumes he’d accumulated in his office at Princeton since 1947. My reading had been almost clandestine; poems on the subway gave and will again add that vibrant sense of shared solitudes, adjacent privacies.

Way to go, MTA! — For Dorothea Tanning fans, see also, published last fall by Graywolf, Coming to That. Ms. Tanning, sculptor, painter & writer, died in January at the age of 101.

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