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Metro Arts Makes Revisions to Poetry in Motion 2020

Emily Waltenbaugh

Nashville’s eighth annual celebration of Poetry in Motion® will feature popular elements from years past, while including some program changes to accommodate social distancing. While the tradition of wrapping a designated WeGo “Poetry Bus” in local poems continues for 2020, the interactive, open-mic style “Cypher” events will move online for a virtual poetry experience.

“Poetry can lift people up in challenging times,” said Metro Arts Executive Director Caroline Vincent. “We are grateful to partner with WeGo, and with talented Nashville poets of all ages coordinated by The Porch and Southern Word, to infuse literary inspiration into Nashvillians’ public transit, as well in accessible digital spaces, this spring.”

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, Metro Arts partnered with Southern Word to engage students and adults in poetry contests centered on the theme “A 2020 Vision of Nashville,” while The Porch Writers’ Collective commissioned poetry from adult Nashville writers. Winning and commissioned poems will be featured in a zine-style anthology produced by The Porch as well as on the wrapped exterior and the interior advertising placards of the WeGo “Poetry Bus.”

Southern Word’s Cyphers—high-energy, spoken word poetry and rap performances with music— will move from WeGo Central to online events at noon on April 15, 22 and 29.

“WeGo is about connecting people to their lives and community,” said Steve Bland, CEO of WeGo. “Now more than ever, WeGo is working with its partners to connect residents virtually instead of on our buses.”

In the aftermath of the March 3 tornado and in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and “safer at home” protocols, WeGo has continued to provide essential service and maintain heightened cleaning practices. For its part, Metro Arts has gathered recovery resources for artists and organizations, convened groups and webinars to help organizations navigate the CARES Act, and asked its Board of Commissioners to reallocate funding for artists’ projects that uplift the community.

In addition to the Poetry in Motion® collaboration, Metro Arts’ other transit-related art initiatives include five artist-designed street improvements along the Nolensville Pike corridor.

To learn more about Poetry in Motion ® 2020, including the virtual Cypher events and the full list of featured poets, visit the Metro Arts blog.