Bus passengers in the region will have fodder for daydreams thanks to the Poetry On Board project at Mira Loma High School.
The school held a competition for a poem and illustration that will be placed on all of Sacramento Regional Transit District’s more than 250 buses. The winning poem by senior Sarah Sheven and illustration by junior Jane Simeon will be posted in bus placards typically used for advertisements, said Mira Loma High School art teacher Allison Stiles-Roberts who spearheaded the project.
The project will give bus passengers something other than advertisements to contemplate, Roberts said.
“It’s not just advertising, it’s not just images,” Roberts said. “It’s really going to be art and it’s so open-ended, the reader can really wonder and daydream.”
Poetry on public transit is not new to the region. The Poetry on Board project was originally started by the Sacramento Poetry Center and inspired by similar programs in other cities, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The project was funded by $1,600 in grants from the Sacramento Metropolitian Arts Commission and the Sacramento River Cats. Roberts applied for the grants after hearing about the Poetry On Board Project. The Sacramento Poetry Center helped coordinate volunteer assistance from Richard Hansen and Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley, who spoke to the students at Mira Loma High School, Robert said.
Mira Loma is the first high school in the region to participate in Poetry On Board. Poetry for the project is usually the work of professional poets and artists, Roberts said.
The winning poem was selected because of its pleasant subject matter. Stiles and the other teachers collaborating on the project wanted the winning poem to “project an image”, Roberts said.
Sheven’s poem titled, “Just Imagine” does just that; it reads:
“I've been to sugary paradise
Where the marmalade sun meets the taffy sky
and blueberry waves lap at cinnamon sand
I'll escape there for hours
Root my feet on the shore
And savor the lemon grass wind that blows in
You can join me
If you'd like
The journey there is but a gingerbread hike
Through Dreamy field and Valentine grove
Imagination will show you the road”
The winning poem was selected from sixteen originally submitted, said Mira Loma English teacher Keith Carmona who also worked on the project. Six poems were then selected by students and teachers chose the winning poem. Art students were then asked to respond to the winning poem with illustrations. Jane Simeon’s illustration was ultimately chosen.
“It was really cool to see the two students who didn’t work together kind of come together,” Roberts said.
The Poetry On Board project highlights the need for high school arts programs.
“It’s a great way to showcase arts in education,” Roberts said.
Poetry On Board placards will be visible on Sacramento RTD buses begining this week.