Poetry in Transit: a BC Innovation

Posted by Howard on Oct 18, 2010 - 5 comments

In 1995, poet Sandy Shreve put together a proposal for a Poetry in Transit program in Vancouver. After brainstorming ideas with numerous friends, Sandy pitched her idea of how such a project might work to BC Transit and the Association of Book Publishers of BC, asking if they would sponsor it. Both agreed right away (later, TransLink also became a sponsor). In September 1996, the first poems appeared on Vancouver buses. They were an instant success – so much so, that within a few months the project expanded to Victoria, and in the second year, spread to another 28 BC communities.
BC's was the first ongoing program of its kind in Canada – followed soon after by one in Toronto, and then more popped up all across the country. By 2002, with the start of a project in Montreal, the Canada Council for the Arts (which helps fund BC's as well as other similar projects) announced that more than five million Canadians could now enjoy poems on their daily commutes. By then, for example, there was Poetry in Motion in Calgary, Take the Poetry Route in Edmonton, Poetry in Motion in Winnipeg, Metroverse in St. John's, Poetry on the Way in Toronto, Transpoetry in Ottawa, Moving Write Along in Regina and Moving Words in Whitehorse.

Several years ago, 85% of riders in a transit survey gave positive feedback about the project, and year after year, people take the time to say how much the poems mean to them. Check the ABPBC site for more information.