Poetry on Buses Takes a Poetic Stand on Water
Expanded Poetry on Buses Launches with April 24 Celebration Event
An expanded Poetry on Buses launches on Monday, April 24, with an event at Seattle’s historic Moore Theatre, featuring community poets, live music and dance performances.This year, Poetry on Buses will feature 365 poems published online and on King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit Link light rail and Seattle Streetcar. The poems run April 2017 through April 2018.
Solicited in 2016 from King County residents including students, immigrants, and adults, over 1,600 original poems on the theme of water were submitted for consideration. Transit riders can look forward to four Metro Transit buses dedicated to poetry, presenting poems exclusively and no advertisements, as well as two Sound Transit Link light rail trains, and one Seattle Streetcar. Additional poems will be shared across Metro Transit buses.
The theme Your Body of Water underscores the essential role water plays in our lives and reminds us how we are all connected. Poetry on Buses Poet Planner Jourdan Keith, together with community liaisons, organized eleven community poetry workshops to encourage the public to submit poems. The community liaisons worked collaboratively with local poets and Poetry on Buses staff to shape bilingual workshops tailored to the needs of Seattle and King County’s diverse communities. Workshops focused on Chinese, Ethiopian, Punjab, Spanish speaking, African American and Tlingit communities.
Along with addressing topics of water justice and water conservation, the poems also explore themes such as rain, memory, family and discovery. The poems are written in eight languages (Amharic, Chinese, English, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tlingit and Vietnamese) and create a record of local voices including youth, Indigenous and African American poets.
Since I have been involved with Poetry on Buses, water pollution has been the frame for understanding disparity in the U.S., from Flint to Standing Rock. The concerns about water quality cycle through our thoughts across the continent. Just like water, they move.— Jordan Imani Keith, Poetry on Buses Poet Planner
Poem by Renton resident Kiana Davis titled “Float.”
Walking miles on land
their bloodlines watered with their sweat, blood, and tears
for justice, a faucet slow dripping poisoned lead water into the mouths of
cries for clean water, asylum, and peace
are met with contempt and death
not to drown in the waves of inhumanity
Ten-year-old Helen Zhang of Seattle shows how we are connected to animals through water in “Keep our water clean.”
KEEP OUR WATER CLEAN
We won’t be able to drink, shower, swim and see sea animals
We won’t be able to see pretty colors of the sea and plants and animals that need water to live
Garbage kills animals and harms the sea
Keep our ocean clean
An expanded Poetry on Buses program is made possible through a partnership between 4Culture, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit, Seattle Streetcar, Intersection, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks: Wastewater Treatment and Water and Land Resources Divisions, and Seattle Public Utilities. Poetry on Buses is managed by the Public Art staff at 4Culture and City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture using both transit- and water-related Percent-for-Art Dollars and Equity Initiative funds allocated for the commissioning and management of art in public space. It is supported through a grant from Amazon Literary Partnership.