Poetry Friday: Poetry in Motion


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:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.27.51 PM

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.”

Please be sure to visit Keri Collins at Keri Recommends for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Poetry in Motion

  1. I wish I could’ve been on that subway with you. Both to hear Elizabeth Strout (OMG!) and to give you a hug when you read the poem, so touching to your heart. Thanks for sharing.


  2. We don’t have buses, much less trains (or any public transit), so I have never encountered Poetry in Motion except from a collection of poems from the project that I had in my classroom library. One year we did use if for inspiration to plaster poems around the school! i would have loved to be along for your evening, both for the poem and the interview. What a literary evening!


  3. What a lovely poem, touches me very much, Catherine. I got to see some of the poems when I traveled to NYC with my students, wish it could happen here on the buses, &/or the rapid transit trains we finally have. I’ve been thinking about “Lucy Barton”, love Strout’s books. There are many wonderful new books coming! Thanks for this wonderful post. What a sweet evening that must have been.


  4. What a great evening you had Catherine and thanks for letting me know about Poetry in Motion. The poem you have here for us to read is filled with such memories as the past does for us.


  5. Me too me too me too–everything in the post! Makes me miss the days of public transit and the luxury of reading “aboard,” which was my habit for all my presuburban, prechildren days. Alas, that heaven is in the past…


  6. I do like the idea of hanging out with everyone we’ve loved and lost. It’s wonderful to think of all of them knowing each other and sitting around chatting companionably.


  7. Golly, I sure wish I had the kind of life where I went on the subway to hear famous authors speak. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with an urban neighborhood woven through with enough wild spaces that I can come across deer in the park on my early-morning-in-the-dark walks…


  8. Catherine, I’m glad you treated yourself to a trip so we could go along with you and enjoy this poem. I love that poetry is on the move in the world!


  9. Putting one’s faith in language – there is much to learn in that exquisite statement – I also love the wistful and hopeful tone of Phillips’ poem – it provides comfort.


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