Bus puts poetry in motion

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2008

Capital Transit will transport poetry to all corners of the community with its annual Poetry OmniBus competition.

Thirty-two new poems have been selected for display on 16 Capital Transit buses for the next year, said competition coordinator Robyn Holloway.

"What's nice about it is it promotes the literary arts in Juneau," she said. "It's completely local."

A celebration will be held at noon Friday on one of the city buses where some of the winning poets will recite their work while the bus loops through the downtown area.

People interested in attending are asked to meet at the bus stop outside the downtown library. A reception also is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday at the downtown library.

The contest began in Juneau three years ago under the direction of former Juneau Empire reporter Kristan Hutchison and the sponsorship of the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. Hutchison has moved away from Juneau, but local poets decided to keep the project alive, said Nancy DeCherney, arts council executive director.

"I'm really happy because Kristan really put a lot of energy into getting it going," she said.

Holloway said she was worried there wouldn't be enough poetry entries to fill the 32 available spots on the buses. Instead, there were 38 adults and 52 youth entries for the contest, she said.

"And wow, I was blown away by the quality of the submissions, even by our youngest poets," Holloway said.

There were 16 poems selected as winners from each of the youth and adult categories.

"We could have probably filled another 16 buses," Holloway said.

Although there are no prizes associated with the contest, winners get to have their work published for thousands of potential readers over the course of a year. In 2006 alone, Capital Transit had more than 1.2 million passengers trips.

"In Juneau we really keep the arts alive and we find a lot of ways for people to display their creative abilities," Holloway said.

The poems from each year are also compiled at each of the public libraries, she said.

DeCherney said she would like to see the competition expand and one day create a more professional book that each winner would receive.

The winners of the youth category, grades five through 12, are Cate Ross, Megan Wright, Anastasia Hobson-George, Dylan Taylor, Hannah Orren, Lauren Rabago, Savanna Schauwecker, Taylor Flannagan, Zach Schauwecker, Hailey Pusich, Austin Tagaban, Tyler Housewart, Scott Funk, Rachel Sielbach and Wil Linford.

Winning adults poems are by Aleria Jensen, Christina Apaathy, Nikki Morris, Bob Fagen, Nick Nixon, Nina Chordas, Helena Fagan, Emily Wall, Richard Stokes, Brenna McLaughlin, Margo Waring, Gerald Adams, Lauren Swift and Shoshannah Seligman.

DeCherney said the Poetry OmniBus is noticed by many people in the community, and people thank her for providing an extra slice of life on the bus system.

"It's really interesting," she said. "It seems to actually touch people in a really profound way."

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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