Madison Metro’s Bus Lines brings moving verse to public transportation

When Araceli Esparza heard a six-year old African-American girl read a poem about her love for Madison, it made Esparza want to cry.

“I want her to grow up and still feel that way. She represented to me a hope; can we fix, before she notices, this terrible inequity in our city?” Esparza asks.

To Esparza, a Madison poet, the girl’s words represent the power of poetry. But the power is often limited; even though Esparza has had multiple works published, she knows that poems don’t usually reach a wide audience.

“With a literary journal, only so many people are going to read it, and I want to write for people who don’t read poetry,” she said.

This summer, thanks to Metro Transit’s Bus Lines poetry project, local poets, including Esparza and the six-year-old girl, will get to see their words not only jump off the page, but whiz by in traffic. The winning poets were honored last week at a reception at the American Family DreamBank.

Getting poems from the minds of Madison citizens to the side of a bus involves cooperation between Metro Transit, the Madison Arts Commission, Edgewood College and the Madison Poet Laureate.

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