Poetry in Motion

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.
– Carl Sandburg

Jillian Tamaki has created several graphic novels. A self-proclaimed feminist, Tamaki’s work aims to include diverse characters who represent her readers. This subway car card, “Platform”, was commissioned by MTA Arts and Design and installed in subway cars in 2016. It is the first of these posters to use the comic strip formant. This work was included in the New York Transit Museum’s show, Underground Heroes, which features NYC transit in comics. For better formatting, I have broken her strip into two parts. Artwork like this is designed to be seen in the soffit corners of subway cars and is representative of art that the MTA sponsors, which in addition to visual art also features poetry.

Sometimes a crumb falls
From the table of joy,
Sometime a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.
– Langston Hughes

As part of a program dubbed Poetry in Motion, these car cards are interspersed among advertisements and announcements. Mostly short and pithy, sometimes subway relevant, sometimes famously authored, but frequently not, these poems give the train riders a moments escape. Something to think about besides the train’s clamor, your life’s problems, the people around you and the daily grind.

Albert J. Bell
Forty years of friendship
with my grandfather,
and still Uncle Al cannot eat
with chopsticks

Forty years of friendship
with Uncle Al,
and still my grandfather forgets
to offer him a fork.
– Janet S. Wong

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