Welcome to Poetry on Buses: Your Body of Water!
Every day, thousands of people use public transit—to commute to work, visit family, go to school, to go home. It’s a unique public space, rich with stories.
From its beginning in 1992, to a multi-lingual reboot in 2014, to now, Poetry on Buses brings those stories to life. We shine a light on the many and varied poetic voices of King County, WA. This year brings a new theme, more languages, a team of community partners, and, of course, local poets—one for every day of the year.
In 2016, writers of all ages and experience levels participated in community poetry workshops and submitted their original poetry on this year’s theme: water. It shapes and connects us all, just like the transit systems where you’ll find these poems. Starting April 24th, look for them on buses, light rail, and streetcars as you move around the region in 2017, and explore the full Your Body of Water Collection online.
Jourdan KeithPoet Planner
As 2016-2018 Poet Planner, Jourdan Imani Keith articulated the theme “Your Body of Water,” co-hosted a series of 11 community poetry workshops, and provides curatorial oversight for the program.
Jourdan is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project. A storyteller in the oral, Griot tradition, she is a VONA, Hedgebrook, and Jack Straw alum, Seattle Poet Populist Emeritus, and Seattle Public Library’s first Naturalist-in-Residence.
Nigist SelfuEthiopian Community
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Nigist is a social worker, journalist and community activist. Before moving to Seattle in 2007, she was a well-known and respected journalist in Ethiopia. She has continued practicing her profession by starting her own radio show broadcasting news and entertainment in Amharic, which attracted a large audience among the thousands of Ethiopians who live in the Puget Sound area. Currently, Nigist is a medical social worker at Harborview Medical Center and contributes programs to the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio/ESAT in Washington DC. She is a passionate advocate for social justice, press freedom and human rights.
Ranjit KaurPunjab Community
Ranjit Kaur, born and raised in Punjab—an Indian state whose name means ”Five Rivers”—has lived in the United States for the past 22 years. Ranjit works full time for Seattle & King County Public Health at the Eastgate Center in Bellevue, where she helps clients manage acute and chronic health issues and provides teaching in diabetes management and birth control. She is an active volunteer at the Khalsa Gurmat School in Renton and for the Kent School District. Ranjit is a certified interpreter and foster parent. She is the mother of two teenagers and a passionate volunteer for communities and loves to help others.
Jacque LarrainzarSpanish Speaking Community
Jacque, a musician and community organizer, was born in Mexico City. Since her arrival to Seattle almost 20 years ago, she has lent her expertise in community outreach, engagement, and facilitation to many local non-profits and government agencies. Passionate about art as a tool for social change, she uses music and performance to break down social and economic barriers. Jacque believes that art creates stronger communities by helping us seeing each other with appreciation. She spends her time making music with the local Latin rock band Revolver, and working on the Day of the Dead Celebration at Seattle Center.
Yuping KwangChinese: Mandarin/Cantonese
Yuping provides family support services to immigrant families at the Chinese Information & Service Center in Seattle’s International/Chinatown District. Her role, along with other Center staff, is to empower immigrant families and to promote their successful adjustment and independence. Yuping was born and raised in Guangdong Province, moving to Seattle with her family in 1995. Prior to joining the CISC, Yuping worked as an Adoption Case Manager for seven years, finding forever families for orphaned children from China. As a beneficiary of CISC’s services 21 years ago when she and her family first moved to this country, Yuping developed a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups.
Tracy RectorUrban Native Community
English + Variety of Native Languages
Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw) is the Executive Director and co-founder of Longhouse Media and an independent filmmaker with her most current project a documentary film called Clearwater. Since January 2005, Longhouse Media has worked with more than 3,000 youth, fostering the artistic and community growth of many young Native filmmakers. With her first feature projects, Tracy learned how to bring oral tradition into a contemporary storytelling format while also identifying how the Coast Salish communities wanted to be involved in the filmmaking process. Tracy is a Sundance Institute Lab Fellow and the recipient of the Horace Mann Award for her work in utilizing media for social justice. Tracy was raised in Seattle and Albuquerque, both of which have inspired her artistic and cultural vision.
Monique FranklinAfrican American focused
Poet and artist Monique Franklin, also known as Verbal Oasis, hails from Seattle. The subject matter of her poetry stems from the rich spectrum of her life experiences, and she views her art and her vocation as an educator as a vehicle for social change. She is a member of the African American Writer’s Alliance and is published in their latest anthology Threads. She has published two volumes of poetry, entitled Acoustic Accolades and Erotic Annals of a Poet. She also released Acoustic Accolades Volume 1, a live album of poetry accompanied by a three-piece Jazz band. She currently co-hosts and co-produces Afrodisiac Erotic Poetry Show Celebrating the Diversity and Sexuality of People of Color, is featured in 4Culture’s Touring Arts Roster and the CD Forum’s Creation Project, and is the owner and operator of Inspired Child, an arts organization which has been providing arts events for youth and families since 2006.