Bus Lines Poetry Contest

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Winners have their poems installed on multiple buses in CAT's fleet.

The House on Maple Street

Stay Tuned for Bus Lines Next Contest (Fall 2016)

Thanks to all those who submitted work for our 2015 contest.  Winners will be notified in January.

 Fifth-grader Savannah read two winning poems.
Fifth-grader Savannah reads
two winning poems. 

The Bus Lines Story

Starting in July 2009, riders on CAT buses have been treated to original poems penned by local school students.  
Bus Lines, a collaborative effort between the City of Charlottesville's Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI), CAT, and the Charlottesville City Schools, first displayed poster-sized poems written by student poets on City buses through September 2009.  

The NLI, an annual six-month program, is offered to provide local citizens with the information and skills needed to become more involved in shaping the City and its future.  Participant Susan Berres suggested the Bus Lines concept as the topic for her NLI group’s final community-based project.  Berres recalled the idea from riding London’s transit system, where “Poems on the Underground” has featured posters with poetry on subway trains since 1986.

The Bus Lines project group, including NLI members Mary Bennett, Jeff Greer, Bob Knighton, George Snyder, Jeff Snyder, Lorie Strother, and Tony Waterfield, worked with then-CTS to arrange for the space on City buses, and coordinate the details and timeline of the project installation.

 Delu Stricker, whose poem was chosen for display on CTS buses, is interviewed at the Bus Lines project launch on July 7.
Delu Stricker, whose poem was chosen for display on CTS buses, is
interviewed at the Bus Lines project launch on July 7. 

Karen Koory, Literacy Coordinator for the school division, put out the call for poems to all City schools and gathered the poetry entries.  Of the 90 works submitted by students at Johnson and Burnley-Moran Elementary Schools, Buford Middle School, and Charlottesville High School, the Bus Lines project group selected 48 poems by 44 students for posting on buses.  

Two civic-minded businesses generously provided in-kind donations for the design and printing of the posters. 

Bus Lines opened the program to the community with a contest soliciting entries of transportation-themed poems in Fall 2009.  Winning entries were installed on board buses in February 2010.  The third Bus Lines contest, with a theme of "Green," was held in April 2010.  "Heroes" was the theme of the fourth contest in Fall 2010, and winners shared their work at the project's first official Virginia Festival of the Book poetry reading.  The fifth contest in Spring 2011 was themed "Neighbors." The Fall 2011 contest was themed "Charlottesville Then and Now," in honor of the city's 250th anniversary in 2012. The seventh contest in the Spring of 2013 was "New Beginnings."  The eighth contest in the Fall of 2013 was "Doors." The ninth contest in the Spring of 2014 was "Out and About." The tenth contest in the Fall of 2014 was "Finish the Story," and the most recent contest (entries due by November 30th) is "Pick Your Style."

The Bus Lines team hopes to continue this project as an annual event, including poems from additional schools and students, and engaging adult poets in the community.

University of Virginia's Special Collections Library

 Sue Berres of Bus Lines delivers copies of winning poems from the project's first two contests to Edward Gaynor at UVA's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Sue Berres of Bus Lines delivers copies of
winning poems from the project's first two
contests to Edward Gaynor at UVA's Albert
and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

Edward Gaynor, Head of Collection Development and Description for the library, contacted then-CTS with the request after becoming aware of the Bus Lines project through a poetry contest flyer. "We archive a good deal of local material - everything from booklets and pamphlets on area services to Charlottesville phone books from a hundred years ago. When I saw the information on this local poetry project, I thought the poems would be a great addition to the collection." 

The initial deposit of 89 poems included work from Bus Lines' first two contests in Summer and Fall 2009. The relationship has continued with all Bus Lines contests since then, and future winning poems will also be placed in the collections. 

Members of the public who wish to view the poems may visit the Special Collections Library on McCormick Road during its regular hours. 

 

 

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