Subways are getting a literary boost.
The MTA is bringing back its popular "Poetry in Motion" program, posting short poems within a quarter of its subway fleet and on the backs of millions of MetroCards.
"Our customers tell us again and again that even a small investment in art and music in the underground makes a huge difference to them," New York City Transit president Tom Prendergast said Tuesday in Grand Central Terminal as he unveiled the first poetry placard to be displayed. "It can truly transport you. It can take you to another place, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need when you’re standing in a crowded subway car."
Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America, which will choose the poems along with the MTA’s Arts for Transit department, said she was “thrilled” the program will return after a four-year hiatus. Previously, placards along the tops of subway cars displayed the poems. The rebooted program will now feature them at eye-level at the ends of cars on every subway line. Eight poems will be selected each year.
The poems will also be paired with art that is already on display elsewhere in the transit system.
The first poem, “Graduation” by Dorothea Tanning — a New Yorker who died earlier this year at 101 years old — is accompanied by Joan Linder’s “The Flora of Bensonhurst,” a glass piece on display at the 71st Street D station in Brooklyn. The poem is already splashed across No. 7 trains, and will be in 1,500 cars by next week. The next poem will be chosen next month.
An MTA spokesman said adding the poems and artwork to subways and MetroCards comes at no cost to the agency, since they’ll be posted in spaces normally reserved for the MTA’s own ads and safety announcements. He added, however, that the agency hopes a sponsor will pay for the program’s expansion.