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by Andrea McGuigan

 

When I encounter a person who says that they don’t like poetry, I always ask “Why?” because I genuinely want to understand. A common response is, “Because I don’t understand it.”
What I try to do with my poetic thrust, and what I would most like to impart onto the non-poetic world, is that there is a type of poetry out there for everyone, in the same way that there is a type of music for everyone, also (Really. Want a poetry recommendation? Email me and I’ll try my best).
The key is to read enough of it, and, I would add, in a non-academic environment, to find what you appreciate. If you’re not inclined to go digging around online at say, www.poetryfoundation.org or www.poetry.com, you could simply ride the bus in Luzerne County.
For the seventh year running, Wilkes Associate English Professor Mischelle Anthony has curated a Poetry in Transit collection for the Luzerne County Transportation Authority, meaning that while you’re riding on public transportation, you can look up from your seat and read a locally-written poem accompanied by original photography. The poems all clock in at six lines or less, and this year’s theme is travel. The poems will go up shortly and stay on the busses for the next year.
The “Travel in Verse” collection includes pieces from Zoe Yonkoski of Dallas, Bruno Milo of Scranton, Anne A. Thomas of Plains,  The Rev. Anthony Grasso of King’s College, Dawn Leas of Dallas, Barbara Crooker of Fogelsville, Joshua Elmore of Shickshinny, Richard Aston of Wilkes-Barre, Francisco Tutella of Wilkes-Barre, Jessica Kuc of Kunkletown and Craig Czury of Reading. The placards also feature original photography by Mark Golaszewski.
The project is inspired by the Poetry in Motion project as seen on New York City’s transit system as well as a London, England program, Poems on the Underground. The idea is to bring art to the masses in an accessible, community-minded medium where poetry isn’t a puzzle on a page, but a contemplative moment in your day. These short poems give you reason to pause from the hectic, monotonous scramblings of everyday life and find beauty, even for a moment.
I’ll share with you one of my favorite poems about poetry, “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins, not because it’s theme is travel, like the Luzerne County Poetry in Transit, but because it’s about learning to appreciate — and not dissect — verse. I share it in all of my workshops and residencies, and it always gets a laugh. Take a moment from your crazy day to read it, and come away feeling a bit more connected to the world.

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confessing out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.