- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Next time you ride a local bus in Luzerne County, look up toward the ceiling. You might find inspiration.

New works of poetry and accompanying photography, displayed on placards normally used for advertising, are once again being placed inside Luzerne County Transportation Authority buses for the 2014-2015 edition of the Poetry in Transit initiative.

Eleven new placards showcasing the original work of 11 area poets were unveiled Friday at Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre. The free event included poetry readings from some of the featured poets.

Wilkes University professor Mischelle Anthony, who has coordinated the Poetry in Transit event since its launch in 2007, explained the program and thanked those who support it before introducing four poets, each of whom read a few of their works, including those featured on the new placards.

Inspired by Poetry in Motion on New York’s Transit System and on London’s Poems on the Underground program, Anthony got the program started in 2007 with 12 placards featuring works of established poets such as Robert Frost.

“When I started it, I didn’t imagine that anyone would be interested in it. So I just used poems from in the public domain,” Anthony said. “The next year, someone said, ‘Why don’t you try asking local writers to submit?’ And it worked. Every year, we have a different batch of people who submit, and we have some faithful people who are with us each year as well.”

This year’s theme, “Luzerne County Local,” features poems by Richard Aston, Mary K. Hooker and Margie E. Thoma, all of Wilkes-Barre; Bob Quarteroni and Corine Coniglio, of Swoyersville; Harold Jenkins, of Nanticoke; David Guiliarelli, of Ashley; Barbara Crooker, of Foglesville; Lois Szymanski, of Duryea; Helen Schmid, of Kingston; and James Hearne, of Drums.

“In the 2014-15 collection are poems from people who knew Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County when it was a different world, or an older world. And it was wonderful to be in that world and to read those poems,” Anthony said. “So I want to thank everyone who submitted those and I hope that continues.”

The more specific themes of the poems, which were required to be six lines in length, cover a variety of topics including the changing local seasons, the Susquehanna River, bus rides in the county, coal miners, family, relationships, neighborhood friends and sites in the Wyoming Valley.

Hooker, 59, said she began writing poetry when she was 12 or 13 and had a poem published in the Times Leader, but stopped because of a busy life’s demands on her time. She began again around the age of 40 and has been having fun with it ever since, self-publishing a book of poems in 2007.

When she read an announcement asking for submissions for the Poetry in Transit program, she decided to give it a whirl.

“It’s the first time I had ever done this. (Poetry is) an art, and it’s nice that local poets get to show their work,” Hooker said. “Any kind of exposure is great.”

Edith Jones, 70, of Forty Fort, said she came to the poetry reading to find out more about the Poetry in Transit program.

“I think it might cause people to take note of the public transportation system. And it will be a nice addition. It will make people’s bus rides more interesting,” Jones said.

Sid Halsor, a board member of the LCTA who attended the poetry reading, said the board is “always looking for ways to enrich the riding experience of the passengers, and this is an excellent way to accomplish that. And we’re looking for others with creative minds to help us find ways to continue to improve the experience that our riders have.”

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Online:

https://bit.ly/13nqfWB

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Information from: Times Leader, https://www.timesleader.com


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