Poetry on Buses
Poems in nine different languages replace advertising on Metro buses, enlivening commutes across King County.
Poetry on Buses celebrates local voices in one of our community’s most vital shared spaces—the bus.Every other year from 1992 to 2007, some 50 poems by local poets of all ages and backgrounds were printed and displayed on King County Metro Transit buses, where they replaced advertising placards above the bus seats. The program went dormant in 2007, but returned in 2014 with a renewed vision for accessibility and inclusion.
Continue Reading ›
The 2014 reboot showcased poems in King County’s five most spoken languages—English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, and Somali—and took “Writing Home” as its theme. Led by poet Roberto Ascalon, who served as Poet Planner, along with a team of community liaisons and translators, 4Culture invited the community to submit their writing via an open call. A series of workshops were hosted at libraries, community centers, and homes where people wrote and shared their diverse poems and poetic traditions. Ultimately, a panel selected 365 poems for publication, one for each day of the year; some appeared on King County transit and all were posted on poetryonbuses.org, where they remain on view.
Poetry on Buses grew again in 2016, thanks to new fiscal and programmatic partnerships with six transit and water stewardship agencies. More than 1,600 residents responded to an open call for 50-word poems on the theme of “Your Body of Water.” Led by Poet Planner Jourdan Imani Keith, a panel once again selected 365 poems for print and digital display, this time in nine languages—adding Amharic, Chinese, Tlingit, and Punjabi. More than 100 poems appeared on buses, light rail, and streetcars, seven of which were outfitted exclusively with poems, and zero advertisements.
Ancillary events for both the 2014 and the 2016 iterations included “roadshow” readings, in addition to workshops and big celebrations at the Moore Theatre. The 2016 Poetry on Buses cycle also highlighted 52 of the selected poets with portraits and professionally produced audio versions of their work.
Explore the collection and learn more about the cohort of poets, community liaisons, and partners who make Poetry on Buses possible.