Watching trains with you
on the glassed-in bridge, your nose
and mine pink with the cold,
our mittened hands waving
at the engines and cars
rumbling below our feet,
I hear again the chant your heart
made before you were born.
Mama, you say now, train, train!
Your mouth makes the sound
of their metallic glissade: tss tss tss.
–“Watching Trains with You”, Katherine Gordon, Poetry in Motion winner, 2010
Public transit is all about the shared experience of traveling through our common spaces. On public transit we travel through our neighborhoods, our cities, on our roads, on our rails. At the same time, it is often a personal journey – sitting quietly by ourselves, going from one of our places to the next. Poetry can be a very personal experience, with internal reactions, and it can resonate easily with our shared experiences.
If you’ve ever ridden a train or bus on Metro Transit and looked up at the advertisements clinging overhead, you might have noticed that some of them feature various poems. They do not necessarily have anything to do with public transit, though some might. But like public art, the Poetry in Motion program brings the arts to the community while enhancing the rider experience. Tired? Crabby coming home from work? Read some poetry! Think about the beautiful things in life! When was the last time you read a poem? You should. Your high-school English teacher would be very happy with you.
The Poetry in Motion program requests poetry submissions from the bi-state region, and 15 poems were chosen by a panel of judges for the 2010 contest. You can see a full list of the winners, their poems, and judges at the Arts in Transit website. I was struck with the large number of young poets represented in this year’s winners, and also by the diverse beauty of the images inspired by their poetry.
On Thursday, May 20, as part of the 2010 Poetry in Motion Reading and Reception, these literary artists from the bi-state area will get a chance to share their poems, along with readings from the guest of honor poet Sally van Doren. Hip-hop poet Jason Braun will serve as emcee for the evening.
The event will take place at the Regional Arts Commission, located at 6128 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63112. Doors open at 6 p.m. featuring music by Essence East. Wine and light refreshments will be served.
We hope you come and witness the intersection of local poetry, public arts and transit. And certainly the next time you are riding Metro, take a moment, look up, and enjoy.