Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poetry in Transit 2014

This past Monday I received this email:

Poetry In Transit 2014 Launch

Calling all poets--

Friday, December 19th

The Launch of Poetry In Transit 2014


Barnes & Noble Wilkes-Kings Bookstore
Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, PA  18702

Hope to see you there!

Bring your poem that's on the bus to read along with up to two others poems you'd like to share. We'll have a podium and microphone.

Everyone welcome--bring family, friends, and colleagues.

See you then, and thanks for being part of the poetry community.


I found out about this program pretty randomly last year. It's the local version of a national movement to get poetry displayed on public transportation - in this case, pieces by local poets displayed on buses  throughout the Luzerne County Transportation Authority (LCTA) system. I found out about it shortly before the 2013 launch. I attended that, mixed and mingled and expressed interest in participating in the next year's event. I even had a poem in mind, one that I had written a few weeks earlier - coincidentally, based in part on events that took place the evening that first I met the person who runs the program, in the aftermath of an unrelated poetry reading.*

The thing is, the poem, while quite short, was still too long to fit the submission guidelines. So I submitted the last stanza only, with the line structure subtly modified. Here's the poem in its entirety:


You should hold hands, they say,
whenever you cross the street
or walk through a parking lot
or when you're in the supermarket
so you don't get lost

We should hold hands all the time
when we're sad
when we're scared
when we feel alone

It's a small planet
but a big universe
and it's easy to get lost
So it's good to have someone by your side
to hold hands with
as you try to find your way

I submitted this back when the call for submissions came out - in April, I think. I publicized it to my fellow writers. I don't know if any of them submitted as well.

I wondered from time to time if this had gone anywhere, but I never heard anything about it until last Monday - or so I thought. A search of my email revealed another message from the person running the program, dated October 24, advising me that my poem had been accepted, and asking for information on where I resided so it could be added to the placard with the poem. By this past Monday it was too late to supply that information; based on my past associations, the assumption was made that I lived in Scranton. (I do not.) But that's fine. It allows me to preserve some shred of anonymity, and serves as a reminder that I should always remember to check my InBox!

So: Friday, December 19 at 5:00 at the Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre (next to Boscov's) there will be a rollout event for the 2014/2015 Poetry in Transit series. I've seen what my placard will look like and it's pretty nifty. I will be reading the complete version of "Hands" as well as two other poems. I'd love to see you there!

*Due to some horrible and traumatic events,  a friend and I were unable to make it to that reading until after it was over, twenty minutes after it started. I tried to strike up a conversation with the person who had invited us there, a person I thought of as a friend, but he deliberately snubbed me in the most overt way possible - his way of expressing contempt for anyone who would be so uncouth as to show up at a reading late. I wanted to think that if he had known the reason for our lateness he might have felt horrible and wanted to crawl under a rock to hide in shame. Later I realized that he was - and is - incapable of feeling empathy for others or remorse for his own bad behavior. Fortunately I cut him out of my life long ago, though we still move in some of the same circles.