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caption: Poet Nora Giron-Dolce at a Seattle bus stop.
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Poet Nora Giron-Dolce at a Seattle bus stop.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Metro Buses Transport Poems To The People

If you live in King County, you're surrounded by public artworks: murals, sculptures, fountains — you name it. Art is everywhere in this region.

That's due in large part to the county's One Percent for Art Program, one of the oldest in the nation. One percent of public construction project budgets are set aside for art or integrated design for those specific projects.

Now public art is expanding beyond the visual. Metro bus riders can indulge their literary yens with Metro's new Poetry on the Buses project. 4Culture, the agency that manages King County's public arts budget, has chosen 365 poets for this massive project. Their work will be featured on Metro's Rapid Ride buses and in the Rapid Ride bus shelters.

Nora Giron-Dolce is one of the writers. Giron-Dolce moved to King County seven years ago from Mexico City. She's part of a group of several dozen Hispanic writers here who meet on a regular basis. That's where she first heard about the Poetry on the Buses project earlier this year.

"You were going to submit your work, and they were going to let you know in August [if chosen to participate.] But my husband and I usually travel in summer," Giron-Dolce laughs.

So when her writers' group members started to text her that their poetry had been selected for the bus project, Giron-Dolce wondered why she hadn't received an email. "At some point I thought I didn't get in!"

But when Giron-Dolce landed at Sea-Tac, back in cell phone range, she got a call from 4Culture with the good news: Her poem "Nostalgia," would adorn one of the Rapid Ride buses. "And I was like 'I got in! Really?"

Giron-Dolce recounts this story from a bench at a Rapid Ride bus shelter on lower Queen Anne in Seattle. A large bus pulls up just as she's about to recite her poem. Her face lights up.

"That's the point! People will read poetry while on the bus or while waiting for the bus!" she exclaims. "It's an urban project, it's for the people. Nobody has to pay for it, nobody has to go look for it."

Giron-Dolce is one of 365 poets participating in Metro's Poetry on the Bus project. You can find their work on Rapid Ride lines and in Rapid Ride bus shelters throughout King County.