A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 26, 2006
Poetry in Motion
The MTA's "Poetry in Motion" program began in 1992. Poems were placed in the buses and subways, just as ads would be. The poems are either short or cut down to just a few lines.

Some people hate it and others like it.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
fig. Something resembling or compared to poetry; poetical quality, spirit, or feeling. Phr. poetry of the foot or of motion: dancing.

1664 DRYDEN Rival Ladies III. 32 The Poetry of the foot takes most of late. 1813 LADY MORGAN Wild Irish Girl (ed. 5) II. xix. 156, 'I seldom dance,' said I'Ill health has for some time coincided with my inclination, which seldom led me to try my skill at the Poetry of Motion.' 1816 KEATS Sonn. Grasshopper & Cricket, The poetry of earth is never dead:..a voice will run..about the new~mown mead; That is the Grasshopper's. 1817 COLERIDGE Biog. Lit. II. xiv. 1 The sudden charm, which accidents of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape..these are the poetry of nature. 1818 BYRON Ch. Har. IV. lviii. 32 That music in itself, whose sounds are song, The poetry of speech. 1846 MACKAY Poems, Railways 1 'No poetry in railways!' foolish thought Of a dull brain, to no fine music wrought. c1863 T. TAYLOR Ticket-of-leave Man in M. R. Booth Eng. Plays of 19th Cent. (1969) II. 101 Come along, Emily, if you're at liberty to give your Montague a lesson in the poetry of motion. 1874 BLACKIE Self-Cult. 70 To live poetry, indeed, is always better than to write it. 1874 HARDY Far from Madding Crowd I. ii. 13 The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use.

Ten Years Of Poetry in Motion

Poetry In Motion's Unique Masthead
For Poetry in Motion's 10th anniversary, we introduced new artwork for the masthead that features segments of the ceramic mosaic mural by Jose Ortega, commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit in 1996.

The mural's title is Una Raza, Un Mundo, Universo — (One Race, One World, One Universe)
See the complete artwork at the 149th Street station.
Find out more about MTA Arts for Transit at http://www.mta.info

When MTA New York City Transit planned the Poetry in Motion program, a unique masthead that featured mosaic tile art from a number of subway stations was created. This design appeared on all Poetry in Motion bus and subway cards for the first nine years of the program.

Our sponsor
Barnes & Noble Booksellers underwrites printing costs for the program, and poetry readings at their stores promote the Poetry in Motion program and its two volumes of poems. We thank Barnes & Noble for its generous support.

Poetry in Motion has won awards that include:

The New York Press Club's "Heart of New York Award" — 1994
The Municipal Art Society's Certificate of Merit — 1994 (Awarded jointly to Poetry in Motion and Arts for Transit)
A proclamation from the Council of the City of New York that honored Poetry in Motion for its "invaluable contribution to the people of New York City" — 2000

Free Poetry in Motion posters available
Poetry Society of America
Attn: Poetry In Motion© Director
15 Gramercy Park
New York, NY 10003

Requests must be from schools, libraries and non-profit organizations
Put requests in writing on organization letterhead and send to the Poetry Society of America
Limit of three posters per group
Titles subject to availability

London's Poems on the Underground program began in subway cars in 1986. In 1992, New York City Transit followed London's lead and Poetry in Motion was born. Representatives from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Poetry Society of America collaborate on the selection of poems. A complete poem or excerpt by an established poet must be short enough to be readable on one of our subway or bus cards. The PSA secures rights to reprint the poems and arranges poetry readings to promote the program

The first four poems
Poetry in Motion debuted with: "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by Walt Whitman, "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson, "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats, and "Let There Be New Flowering" by Lucille Clifton.

18 December 1992, New York Times, "Poetry in the Subways," pg. A38:
Meanwhile, the Transit Authority, the local arm of the M.T.A., has embarked on its own promotional campaign called "Poetry in Motion." Devised by Gannett Outdoor New York, an advertising business, with an assist from the Poetry Society of America, the T.A.'s ads display verses from Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Bridge" and others.

Posted by Barry Popik
Transportation • Thursday, January 26, 2006 • Permalink

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