State Poet Laureate Tina Cane and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) are putting out a call for poetry submissions as they work together to expand the impact of “Poetry in Motion, RI.” Based on a program that was started in 1992 as a collaboration between New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Poetry Society of America, Poetry in Motion introduces poetry to suburban and urban landscapes by posting poems, or parts of poems, on buses and subways cars. Since its start in New York, the program has been adopted by numerous transit systems across the country and was launched in Rhode Island a little over a year ago.
Poems are posted on the digital display boards inside RIPTA buses, taking a place amidst a rotation of changing advertisements. The intent is to give the public a moment of reflection or reprieve in an information-loaded landscape, and Cane said that the positive response to the project prompted her to seek public submissions. “I have thought about doing this for some time, and was inspired by a rider’s query to finally take action,” Cane said. “This rider’s reaching out, and her desire to take part is precisely the kind of engagement with art that I had hoped Poetry in Motion, RI would encourage. Rhode Islanders of all ages who write poetry should consider sharing their work this way.” The poems on the RIPTA buses change monthly, and Cane said that she will choose a submission that will be displayed during January 2019.
“We loved the idea of Poetry in Motion from the moment Tina Cane first broached it with us,” said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs at RIPTA. “It’s a way to offer people a chance to pause and reflect, and read something that perhaps touches them or makes them smile. Soliciting poems from the public just makes the project even more inclusive.”
To date, the digital boards on the buses have showcased well-known poets such as Walt Whitman as well as some locally-based poets such as Amy Pickworth, Colin Channer and Rosalynde Vas Dias. October’s featured poet was Moira Flath, Rhode Island’s inaugural Youth Poetry Ambassador – a position established by Cane last year. The poems are displayed along with original designs created in collaboration with Rhode Island-based designers and artists.
Poetry submissions will be accepted from November 1 through December 1, 2018. Any Rhode Island resident can submit up to three poems for consideration. Each submission must be accompanied by their full name, address, phone number, and email, and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tina Cane will select one winner who will have his or her lines displayed during the month of January, and the winner will be notified by email in early December.