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PUBLISHED: 1:20 PM on Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Juneau poetry contest puts poems on city buses
Poets have just a few days remaining to submit short poems to be put on city buses. Entry forms for the community-wide contest can be found online at www.JAHC.org, in Juneau Public Libraries and on Capital Transit buses.

Last year bus riders became bus readers, with the publication of poem-placards in places usually reserved for advertisements on the Capital Transit buses.

The Poetry OmniBus continues this year. Any Juneau resident can enter the contest for a chance to have a poem of 10 lines or less on the bus. The contest deadline is Jan. 15.

Last year more than 240 people submitted poems and 24 were chosen by a panel of Alaska State Poet Laureates.

The selected poems have been touring the city aboard the buses. Entries may be sent by e-mail to poetryomnibus@yahoo.com. Poets can enter up to three poems, with the first entry free. The subsequent entries cost $5 each.

John Kern, Capital Transit manager, has offered two placard spaces on each of the 12 city buses, allowing for 24 poems in all. Carol Race at the Juneau Public Library has offered space for a public reading and reception once the winners are chosen.

Printing Trade Company is subsidizing the printing costs this year.

London created a Poems on the Underground program in 1986, putting poems in subway cars. In 1992, New York City followed suit with Poetry in Motion, a collaboration between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Poetry Society of America. Since then the Poetry in Motion literary outreach program expanded to 14 cities, reaching 13 million people daily.

The New York program won the "Heart of New York Award" from The New York Press Club in 1994 and the Municipal Art Society's Certificate of Merit the same year. In 2000 it was honored as an "invaluable contribution to the people of New York City " in a proclamation from the Council of the City of New York .

Seattle started its own Poetry on Buses program in 1992 on King County Metro buses, paid for from the King Count Percent for Art fund.

The 2005 poetry contest drew more than 1,800 poems. The 60 selected poems represent diverse walks of life and writing experiences.

In February 2004 Dee Longenbaugh and Ken Melville came up with the name Poetry Omnibus.

Kristan Hutchison took on the project in October 2006, following the same format that has been successful in Seattle.


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