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  February 26, 2001

Poetry on the Move on Shuttle Buses

If you've ridden a bus on the Storrs campus recently, you may recognize these lines. The poem, 'Birdlimed', written by Stephanie Roach, a graduate student and assistant director of the freshman English program, is one of the first selected for a new initiative known as Poetic Journeys.

The project, a collaborative effort between the Creative Writing Program, the Design Center, the UConn Co-op and the Department of Transportation Services, publishes poems from faculty, staff, and students on the interior of some of the campus buses.

"We hope to have a new poem up on the buses every three weeks," says Jenny Spinner, director of the Creative Writing Program and the project's coordinator. "We're very excited about this project, about getting poetry out of the classroom and into public spaces and making poetry part of our everyday lives."

The series, which began last semester, was inspired by similar "Poetry in Motion" programs that have been started in New York and other metropolitan areas.

Poetic Journeys welcomes poetry from anyone in the University community. Students enrolled in creative writing classes may also have their work nominated by their teacher.

Once a poem is chosen, it is forwarded to students in the Design Center and their faculty advisor, Edvin Yegir, an assistant professor of art and art history. Design Center students designed a one-time permanent logo for the series and will design all poem layouts in the future. The layout for the first two poems in the series was designed by Jeff Bellantoni, an assistant professor of art and art history. Thanks to funding and services provided by the UConn Co-op and the Department of Transportation Services, the poems are then printed and posted in advertising spaces on the buses.

"The Design Center did a wonderful job of taking the text and giving it a visual look that suits it," says Roach. "It's a whole new package - the visual representation of the poem - and that's what's striking and makes people read on."

Poems by Rich Delahunt, a fourth-semester English major, James Berry, an eighth-semester acting major, and Katherine Thurbur, a fourth-semester double major in English and fine arts, will soon appear on the buses as well. Poems by faculty in the English department, Margaret Gibson and Marilyn Nelson, have also been selected for the series.

Delahunt's poem is about Horsebarn Hill and watching the sun rise. Delahunt is happy to have his poem published in such an unusual place. "It's cool," he says, "because it's out there and people are reading it."

Those interested in submitting a poem for consideration should send it to: Creative Writing Program Office, Unit 1025. Students should include their semester standing and major, and non-students should state their affiliation with the University.

Rebecca Stygar

When I was immortal
I rolled the carcass of a cardinal
back and forth like a stone;

I poked the body
examining closely the neck broken — slamming into our picture window

I was fascinated
by the dead bird's feet
segmented like the bodies of worms
curled and grasping at nothing

like the hands of my grandfather
on his nightstand
when he couldn't remmber
which pills to take.

Stephanie Roach