10/27/2007

poetry in transit + sex reassignment

After missing a transfer during my commute a few days ago, I jumped on a 135 - a massive articulated bus that runs between downtown and SFU - and whaddya know, it was the (a?) poetry bus! All of its ad space was filled with the Poetry in Transit ad cards.

I think the bus usually runs the 98 B-Line route (to UBC) and I just lucked out. Knowing how much poetry activity there is on campuses, especially when compared to the rest of the city, it seems a shame to focus on reaching university students- they can already readily get poetry if they want it, while most others can't.

Anyway, I was only on the bus for 10 minutes or so, but I quickly paced up and down and read everything. I'd read most of them already, but there were a few new ones, including an excerpt from Earle Birney's "Vancouver Lights" from his new selected One Muddy Hand (my review of which will be coming out...oh, god knows when...with PoetryReviews.ca).

Once again, The Association of Book Publishers has made good picks - open to the non-poetry reader, yet still challenging - though there are a few oddities.

Firstly, despite riding far too many buses every day, I have still only seen half the poems offered (even the poetry bus was missing half). I assume this means that they are saving the other half for a 2008 release, but the fact that they have more in reserve makes it that much stranger that the poetry bus had 3-4 copies of the same poem posted next to each other as space-filler.

Also, having just read the Birney book, while I understand the attraction of publishing something Vancouver-themed, I can think of many excerpts that they could have picked which would have been much more in keeping with the goals of the series.

Strangest of all, though, is the layout of the ad cards: each poem has a photo of a person next to it. This person, though, is not the author. In all cases but one, it is impossible to tell that the photo is not of the author, unless you already know what the author looks like. This is because the gender of the name and the sex of the person in the photo are always aligned (with the exception of David Zieroth who, apparently, is an elderly woman). I can see what they were going for in putting "readers", not "writers" photos up - but the gendered alignment does lead to the assumption that David Zieroth is going through a life-altering tranformation, which I don't believe was the intended goal.

If you have very, very good eyesight you can read all of the Poetry in Transit poems online here. Or you can just ride the bus and be surprised.

P.S. One Ghana, One Voice is trying something new this week. Check it out!

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