Poetry in Motion puts verse, art on CATA buses



By Mallory Londeck, Liz Magee and Marissa High (video)
Ingham County Chronicle staff writers

EAST LANSING – Poetry in Motion, a nationwide project that began in New York in 1992, made its Michigan debut Wednesday, Jan. 26, with a kickoff event in East Lansing.

The event marked the collaboration of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities “>Center for Poetry at MSU with the Capital Area Transit Authority bus system, to display poetry on East Lansing’s public transit.

“The goal of the project is to put art in our day and town landscapes, and to bring poetry into our lived experience,” said Stephanie Glazier, assistant director for the poetry center.

Poetry in Motion features snippets of verses accompanied by student-made art and graphics, on the walls of some CATA buses. “The students worked extremely hard to draw and design all the artwork,” said Paula Storrer, an assistant professor in MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Storrer encouraged many of her students to take part in the event and submit designs.

Three women on bus look around at poems

Poetry in Motion riders read poems on bus. Photo by Liz Magee

MSU senior Elissa Budziszewski’s art was chosen and said that featuring poetry on the buses will be good for the community. “It makes riding the bus more interesting, and it’s educational, too,” she said.

Students and faculty involved with the project were invited to the kickoff, a bus ride featuring the poetry as well as stops at four Lansing locations.

The event began at Phillips Hall, and the ride started after opening remarks from Glazier. The bus first stopped at the Lansing independent bookstore Everybody Reads, and continued to the Michigan Humanities Council. The bus then traveled to the Capital Area District Library and finally, the Greater Lansing Women’s Center.

At each stop, passengers listened to brief remarks about the community and listened to a poetry reading. The event concluded back at Phillips.

Passengers on the bus greatly enjoyed the event. “It was really inspiring … It was one of those experiences that you remember,” said Steve Esquith, dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and passenger on the bus.

While the event marked the official kickoff of the Poetry in Motion project, CATA riders will be able to view poetry on various buses soon. “The project launches to the public in February and will continue all the way through May,” said Laurie Robison, director of marketing for CATA. Poetry will be featured on 12 buses.

Olivia Asiala, a senior at MSU, said she hopes the project will bring poetry back into the public eye. “The goal is to spread poetry in the community and get people to start talking about it,” she said.

Lines from a Bob Hicock poem say, "We are a people who by February  want to kill the sky for being so gray  and angry at us. “What did we do?”  is the state motto. There’s a day in May  when we’re all tumblers, gymnastics  is everywhere, and daffodils are asked  by young men to be their wives. When a man elopes  with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.."

This is how Elissa Budziszewski illustrated verses from a poem by Bob Hicock. Photo by Liz Magee

1 Comment

Filed under CATA