Rosa Rode the Bus Too
began on a city bus.
Where is your next stop?
– Len Lawson
By: Literary Arts Editor and City Poet Laureate Ed Madden
On Sunday, November 1, One Columbia and The Comet will host the launch of our city’s first major poetry as a public art program—poems on city buses—with a rolling poetry reading on a downtown bus route followed by a celebration and reading at Tapp’s Art Center (1644 Main).
The rolling reading will take place on route 101—so we’re calling it Poetry 101. (Clever, right?) The route, which runs up North Main from the Sumter Street transit station, takes approximately an hour. There will be limited seating, first come, first served. Three sets of poets will read their work for Poetry 101, and thanks to the generosity of One Columbia, all rides on the 101 route will be free all day. For the Poetry 101 rolling reading, meet at the Sumter Street station (1780 Sumter) at 3:30. If you can’t join us on the bus, join us at Tapp’s Art Center for the celebration, with food and drink and readings by more of the poets.
The project is a collaboration One Columbia Arts and History and the Poet Laureate with the Central Midlands Transit Authority. Thanks especially to Lee Snelgrove at One Columbia and Tiffany James at CMTA.
This is my first major project as the city’s poet laureate, and I’m really excited that we have been able to do this. One of my charges as the city laureate is to incorporate the literary arts into the daily life of the city, and to get poetry into public places. The Comet project does that. We have poems on printed CMTA bus schedules (check out some online at: http://catchthecomet.org/routes/), we have poems on the buses themselves, and One Columbia has also published a small book of poems selected for this project—an exciting collection of South Carolina voices, and short poems ranging from the punchy to the political to the poignant. The books will be available at Tapp’s.
Earlier this year, 89 South Carolina writers submitted over 200 poems for Poems on the Comet. Our theme was “The Story of the City,” and poets wrote about favorite places, historical events, daily life in the Midlands, even poems about riding on the bus. We narrowed it down to 51 poems by 45 writers. There are poems by established writers, emerging writers, writers active in the local spoken word and arts communities, musicians, and young writers—seven of them students in Richland and Lexington County middle schools.
At Tapp’s we will also announce the theme for next year’s poetry project.
You can find out more at our Facebook event site: https://www.facebook.com/events/180667522270918/
Learn more about this project and get updates on what I’m doing as laureate at the laureate website: http://www.columbiapoet.org/2015/10/20/cometevent/
Here are a few poems featuring in this year’s project.
As a turtle suns
on the boulders
of the river
so my soul stretches
forth to face the day.
No matter your starting point,
here you’re never lost.
Each right turn, each left turn
leads you to a familiar place.
The city itself a compass,
its needle, no matter the direction,
always points you home.
All morning the wind has collected the incense of fields,
the smell of grass like the sweet breath of the dead,
the scent of earth pungent with sorrow and hope,
the perfume the rain shakes from its long hair.
The wind has collected these things in fields and forests,
cities and towns, to bring them to you this morning,
small winds carrying chocolate and smoke
blown from the black lake of your cup of coffee.
Who Sees The City?
Drew Meetze (age 14)
Who sees the city best?
The tourist, the resident, or the outsider?
The tourist sees the bronze stars on the capitol,
the cramped racks of key chains and postcards.
The resident sees little coffee shops
on Main Street and hidden alleyways.
The outsider understands that everyone they see
has their own lives, first loves, or tragedies.
Time flows like water
Eyes of Cofitachequi
Watch the Congaree
Under watchful gaze
Five Points remains guarded by
That naked cowboy
Milltown Saltbox Bedrooms
David Travis Bland
You can dance in the passenger seat—
I’ll hold the wheel.
Five in the morning traffic
Between an emaciated bridge
And chicken factory steam
Blurring the red neon sky.
We’re vegetarians in a pork town
Dancing in milltown saltbox bedrooms
On the banks of a river we all cross.