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MTA Arts & Design

Poetry in Motion

It would have pleased Walt Whitman, that poet of urban motion, to envision his words coursing by electrified rail through a diverse, global city of 8 million souls.

Since 1992, when it first displayed an excerpt from Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," MTA's Poetry in Motion program has brought more than 200 poems or excerpts before the eyes of millions of subway riders and rail commuters, offering each a moment of timelessness in the busy day.

After a hiatus of four years, from 2008 through 2011, the popular program returned in March 2012, under the aegis of Arts & Design. The revived program displays two new poems each quarter, on "car cards" in the New York City subway cars. The poems are chosen in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America; submissions are not accepted.

The artwork accompanying the poems is drawn from permanent installations on view in the Arts & Design program, often based on the sketches provided by the artists in their preparatory designs. Poems in the series also appear on the reverse sides of MetroCards, on the MTA's On-the-Go touch-screen kiosks, and in other transit venues.

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