Whenever I’m on the subway, I’m always on the lookout for one of the MTA’s “Poetry in Motion” posters. “Poetry in Motion” is a joint project between the Poetry Society of America and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Poetry is placed in “transit systems of cities throughout the country, helping to create a national readership for both emerging and established poets.”
Earlier this week, on my way to hear Colum McCann interview Elizabeth Strout about her new book, My Name is Lucy Barton (Random House, 2016), I was on a packed rush hour train and couldn’t tell if there was a poem in the car or not. However, later in the evening, the train was almost empty and I easily spotted this beauty by Patrick Phillips:
This was a perfect end to a perfect evening. McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin, which won the National Book Award, and the critically acclaimed Thirteen Ways of Looking, and Strout were smart, funny, and insightful. Their conversation revolved around My Name is Lucy Barton in particular and writing in general. And although both Strout and McCann are primarily novelists, their finely observed prose is infused with poetry.
I couldn’t keep up trying to write down all of McCann and Strout’s wise words about writing, but I do remember Strout saying that her eyes and ears are always open, that she loves to listen. I also found this on McCann’s website: “Put your faith in language.” And this “So this, then, is a word, not without love, to a young writer: write.”
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