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“Poetry on the Move” Puts Poems on Public Transit

Public Transit Riders to Enjoy Poetry beginning in National Poetry Month
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. -- April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, the County of Santa Clara Poet Laureate Sally Ashton is launching “Poetry on the Move,” featuring five winning poems of the Poetry on the Move Contest which ran from mid-December through January 31.  Residents were asked to send their best poem that celebrates who we are and what we do in Silicon Valley.  The poems were to be 50 words or less.  Some ideas given to kick-start the creative process were to write about “invention,” think of the poem as an invention and capture the spirit of “making new” that shapes Santa Clara County. The collaborative project was funded by the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs. 
 
More than 100 residents answered the call.  Poems were read by first and second readers and a final judge, Jennifer K. Sweeney, author of two books of poetry and the recipient of the 2009 James Laughlin Award. 
 
Of her decision judge Sweeney writes, “I felt these five poems best captured the daily human experience and the unique world of the journey–that strange collective life in transit–while simultaneously celebrating the locale in a striking way.  I am excited for the creative offering of this project and for these fine poems which will live in motion shuttling back and forth across the South Bay.”
 
“One of my goals as Poet Laureate is to get our entire community engaged in or thinking about poetry,” said Ashton.   "The cards are beautiful and I'm thrilled to get poetry moving throughout the county in this way."
 
Now commuters will be able to read and reflect on the spirit of invention and change as they make their way around the valley.  Poems will also be on display at County libraries.
 
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate poetry and National Poetry Month," Ashton continued.   

Attending the news conference were:Poet Laureate Sally Ashton, Councilmember Sam Liccardo, City of San Jose Councilr and VTA Board Member,    Mayor Mike Kotowski, Campbell; Mayor Tony Spitaleri, Sunnyvale; Poets - Mark Heinlein, San Jose; Dennis Noren, Campbell; Danielle Roberts, Santa Clara; Patricia McDonald, Arts Commissioner & Vice Chair Public Art Committee, City of San Jose; Nancy Glaze, Executive Director, Arts Council Silicon Valley; and Joe Miller, Project Artist.  Mayor Tony Spitaleri read for Diana Clarke, Sunnyvale who could not attend. The winning poems and poets follow:
 
Tangents of Invention Early On
by Diana Clarke, Sunnyvale
 
Seldom is she smooth
as glossy tile,
graceful as windsong,
more jagged, undefined,
a wildflower sprouting
beside a twisty rail.
No spontaneity—
this, too, can be forced
like a bulb out of season.
She longs to soar on a thermion
in a glowing white mist.
# # #
 
Gravity
by Mark Heinlein, San Jose
 
The full moon – golden as December
maple leaves, purity of white
orchids in spring –
possesses enough pull to move oceans,
to maneuver titanic levers of tides.
 
Down here, we need some heavenly
invention to draw us closer,
body to body, as we move
through the days like the moon.
# # #
 
From the Platform on First Street
by Samantha Lê, San Jose
 
a dispassionate rain sprinkles colors
onto glassy morning tracks
faded creatures in shapes of blue and sleeplessness –going
 
gone the warning whistles of the watchful conductor gone
the smoke that caught the wind
and stained the air
# # #
 
Accelerate
by Dennis Noren, Campbell
 
perhaps soon you will span
improbable places
impossibly               spaced
perhaps a gritty clarity
will accelerate from waypoint
to waypoint       perhaps you
will footprint here
to there
# # #
 
The Inventor
by Danielle Roberts, Santa Clara
 
You smelled of melted wax and feathers,
and made wings from anything
 
you could place your palms upon:
typewriter teeth, broken rulers, stained
 
piano keys, broken helixes of DNA—
grizzled like the steel wool of Einstein’s hair—
scorched from soaring too close to the California sun.
# # #
 
 
The winning poems will be displayed on transit bus and rail car cards inside the vehicles through the end of May and are available on the Poet Laureate blog at: http://poetlaureateblog.org.  Additional contest contributors’ poems will also be posted online. The Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Program is a collaboration between the County of Santa Clara and Arts Council Silicon Valley.
 
About the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate
The Santa Clara County Poet Laureate post was advocated by Supervisor Liz Kniss and approved by the Board in November 2008. The mission of the Poet Laureate is to create a poetic identity for Santa Clara County, and showcase the spirit of the people and the special qualities of the county through poetry. The Poet Laureate is an honorary post. Nils Peterson was appointed as the first Santa Clara County Poet Laureate by the Board of Supervisors in March 2009. Sally Ashton is the second and current Poet
Laureate.

About Arts Council Silicon Valley
Arts Council Silicon Valley is an independent, nonprofit arts agency dedicated to providing funding, advocacy support, and marketing services to the region’s arts organizations and artists. As the official state/local partner with the California Arts Council, the County of Santa Clara, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Council Silicon Valley is the largest nonprofit arts council in the state. Since the organization’s inception in 1982, the Arts Council has provided nearly $25 million in grants and services to local arts and cultural organizations, individual artists, schools, and community groups. For more information on Arts Council Silicon Valley go to: www.artscouncil.org
 
Media Contact:  Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Anna Weldon, Arts Council Silicon Valley (408) 998-2787, ext. 217; Brandi Childress, VTA
(408) 952-4297
Posted: April 6, 2012