Welcome to Poetry on Buses, one of our region’s most beloved public art programs!
Every day, thousands of people use transit—to commute to work, visit family, go to school, and return home. It’s a unique public space, rich with stories. It’s a space where, for a short while, all of us are moving in the same direction.
The program began in 1992, received a hugely successful reboot in 2014, and is now expanding even further! This year brings a new theme, languages, community partners, and, of course, poets—one for every day of the year. We invite you to join us for a free poetry workshop and submit your poem to be shared on buses and online.
The poems are written by the person across the aisle, that kid in the back, and the professional poet alike. A partnership between 4Culture, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Sound Transit, King County Metro, King County Wastewater Treatment Division, King County Water and Land Resources Division, and Seattle Public Utilities, Poetry on Buses celebrates local voices.
“Your Body of Water” is a poetic exploration of our connections to water and how it is protected and cared for by Seattle Public Utilities and King County.
We are all bodies of water, connected to one another through the water web. Your body of water is connected to streams, rivers, lakes, tides, waterfalls, toilets and faucets, to present homes, childhood homes and ancestral ones by memory, by the water cycle, by stories. Come, tell your story through poetry.
Jourdan Imani Keith is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project. Her ekphrastic (writing in response to art) poems and stories, written in response to art, were featured in the Northwest African American Museum’s 2015 Glass Orchidarium exhibit and at the Seattle Art Museum’s REMIX in November 2015. A contributing writer for Orion Magazine, her essays, “Desegregating Wilderness” and “At Risk” were chosen for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology. 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. She is at work on a series of linked essays called Tugging at the Web, an expansion of her TEDx Talk.
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.