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Poetry In Motion® Returns in April to MTA Buses

Emily Waltenbaugh

Emily Waltenbaugh
Media Specialist
Office: 615-862-4099
Cell: 615-406-8153

Citywide Program Expands Effort to Integrate Local Artists and Cultural Partners Into the Transit Experience, Unveils Inaugural “Poetry Bus”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville’s public transit passengers will experience the sights and sounds of local poetry during their commutes next month, as Poetry in Motion® returns to the city’s buses. Metro Arts and the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) have partnered to bring winning poems from local students and adults to MTA’s fare cards, pamphlets, on-bus placards and audio announcements, and to the wrapped exterior of a dedicated Poetry Bus, throughout April, National Poetry Month.

Wrapped Poetry Bus for Poetry in Motion® 2018.

“We are pleased to partner with Metro Arts on this very worthwhile initiative again,” said Nashville MTA and Regional Transportation Authority CEO Steve Bland. “As we move to expand ridership and the rider experience throughout our transit system, poetry and art are a great way to reflect our community and engage our riders.”

Created in 1992 by the Poetry Society of America, Poetry in Motion® highlights classic and contemporary poetry in public transit vehicles. The program has appeared in more than 30 cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., making its debut on Nashville MTA vehicles in 2012. This year, Nashville’s sixth to participate, marks the city’s largest celebration of Poetry in Motion® to date.

Metro Arts partnered with Southern Word and The Porch Writers’ Collective to engage students and adults in poetry contests centered on the theme “The Power of Movement.” Winning poems will fill the visual space aboard buses, and for the first time, riders can board a “Poetry Bus” completely wrapped in poems and hear winning poetry over the on-board audio announcements.

Nashvillians can tour the Poetry Bus, view winning poems from students and adults, and hear the readings from Southern Word and The Porch at the Poetry in Motion® Celebration Day, 4-6 p.m. on April 16, 2018, at Music City Central. The event will also feature the release of a free community poetry anthology curated by The Porch Writers’ Collective.

“Our artists, musicians and poets are one of the things that make Nashville unique. As we seek to make bold strides in transit and mobility to help all Nashvillians access better jobs and education, it is critical that our transit system reflect our community—artistic, diverse and innovative,” said Mayor David Briley. “This program shows the best of what Metro is capable of through listening to the community and building public/private partnerships. I’m excited to think of our future transit system and the bold way it may incorporate community-generated art.”

In addition to the Poetry in Motion® collaboration, Metro Arts’ other transit-related art initiatives include a call for five artists to work on safety and mobility improvements on the Nolensville Corridor and an open effort to encourage more artist-designed elements in bikeways around the city.

“Buses, sidewalks and crosswalks are critical parts of our community and our safety and mobility,” said Metro Arts Executive Director Jennifer Cole. “Metro Arts is committed to working with residents, artists, and public and private partners to integrate art into the infrastructure we all need to be safe and mobile in our neighborhoods. Poetry is just another vehicle for our commission’s goal to make art and culture accessible to everyone in Nashville.”

To learn more about Poetry in Motion ®, including Celebration Day on April 16, visit

Bus placard featuring student poetry.

Students’ Poems to Appear on Bus Placards, Poetry Bus

Southern Word, Inc. collaborated with Metro Arts on a contest for youth poets, ages 13 to 17, to submit entries focusing on the theme “The Power of Movement.” Ninety-nine students entered the contest, and the eight winners who will be featured on placard ads and the Blue Route bus are:

  • Edward Jimenez-Arias, Croft Design Center Middle Prep
  • Leonora Boshier, Isaac Litton Middle Prep
  • Mason Newbury, Nashville School of the Arts
  • Michael Corder, Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet
  • Sierra Gray, Isaac Litton Middle Prep
  • Scarlett Jones, Homeschool
  • Sydney Owens, Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet
  • Kendall Grimes, Head Middle Magnet Prep

According to MTA, Nashville youth under age 18 rode public transit to and from school more than 1.8 million times last year, and Southern Word’s contest highlights how critical public transit is to public education.

MTA fare cards featuring winning haiku poetry.

Adults’ Winning Haiku Poems Featured on Fare Cards, Pamphlets, Poetry Bus

The Porch Writers’ Collective, in collaboration with Metro Arts, engaged the community in a citywide haiku contest, asking residents to draft the traditional three-line Japanese poem around the issues of mobility, inclusion and access. The 15 winning poets whose haiku will be printed on fare cards, in The Porch anthology and on the Poetry Bus are:

  • Christy Nicholson, Grand Prize Winner
  • Aubrey Woods, Grand Prize Runner-up
  • John Silkey, Grand Prize Runner-up
  • Bryan Byrdlong
  • Robert Longhauser
  • Elisa Hertzan
  • Bob Hunter Boyd
  • Grace Adams
  • Isabella Johnson
  • Emma Miller
  • Layne Gardner
  • Darius Kindle
  • Lindsay Garric
  • Barbara Santoro
  • Isabella Margot

About the Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America, the nation's oldest poetry organization, was founded in 1910 for the purpose of creating a public forum for the advancement, enjoyment, and understanding of poetry. Through a diverse array of programs, initiatives, contests, and awards, the Poetry Society of America works to build a larger audience for poetry, to encourage a deeper appreciation of the art, and to place poetry at the crossroads of American life. Additional information about the Poetry Society of America is available online at

About Southern Word

Southern Word conducts spoken word school residencies, after school workshops, open mics, and shows. Through the literary and performing arts, Southern Word offers creative solutions for youth to build literacy and presentation skills, reconnect to their education and to their lives, and act as leaders in the improvement of their communities. Southern Word is committed to providing youth with as many opportunities to develop and publicly present their voices with live performance, print, video, audio, and digital media. Last year, Southern Word reached 4,000 students in schools in five Tennessee counties through the residency program, including almost every Nashville high school.

About The Porch Writers’ Collective

The Porch fosters the artistic and professional development of writers and promotes a vibrant and diverse literary culture in Nashville through educational, inspirational, and community- building opportunities for adults and youth. They offer workshops, curate events, and offer programming to community partners that develop the poetry ecosystem in Nashville and engage poetry in multi-disciplinary spaces.

About Nashville Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Nashville MTA is an integral part of the community; connecting people to their lives and community by offering comprehensive transit services to all Davidson County neighborhoods. Nashvillians can enjoy their favorite attractions, events, and eateries by visiting and start planning their trip today. You can also contact one of our Customer Care representatives for additional information at (615) 862-5950.

About Metro Arts

Metro Arts is the Nashville Office of Arts + Culture. Our mission is to drive a vibrant and equitable community through the arts. Metro Arts receives operational support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and additional information is available online at