"One of the most esteemed artistic programs in King County is back."
So said the call for submission that encouraged King County writers to participate with their poetry. The program, sponsored by the 4Culture Foundation, aims to disseminate literature to thousands of people who ride the bus. The selected poems are placed behind the headrests of the seats, so that everyday, when the passengers ride the bus, they may enjoy reading them during their journey. In addition, the poems are also published in the virtual portal www. poetryonbuses.org. throughout the year.
What caught my attention about the announcement were these words. "We are looking for poems in English, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese - the languages spoken in our communities". Oh! What joy I felt to know that authors who prefer to write in their native language, could participate. And how wonderful that everyone –whether they spoke English or not – could read the work of local poets of various nationalities.
The call for submission was shared with our group Seattle Escribe. This group was born from the initiative of our beloved librarian, Marcela Calderón-Vodal, who convinced her superiors to offer workshops in Spanish at the Seattle Central Library. I had the great privilege to teach the first workshops. Classes were immediately filled and thus the "furious defenders of the Spanish language” came together under the name of Seattle Escribe.
Several of the Seattle Escribe writers sent their poems to the contest. For some of them, it was the first time they responded to a submission request. I lit candles and prayed that everyone, even those who did not participate, would learn something from the process. Today, I still don’t know exactly how many sent their work, but what I do know is that poetry of FIVE of our writers was selected.
I would like to applaud, first of all, the organizers of this initiative that embraces diversity in our communities. I congratulate you for being inclusive and for opening a forum for literature expressed in other languages.
I especially want to celebrate the Seattle Escribe writers who were selected. CONGRATULATIONS. What a thrill to know that your poems will be enjoyed throughout the city!
I also would like to celebrate those who participated and were not selected. GOOD FOR YOU for trying. Know that success is NOT measure by any contest but by your own courage and persistence. The poems that come AFTER rejection ARE success.
Finally, I want to celebrate those who, for whatever reason, did not participate. You are FORTUNATE because the example of your peers will propel your submission next year.
Oh! I can already see the passengers board the bus after a long day at work. I can see them discovering your poems on those headrests. And how surprized – and delighted - they are to be able to read in their own languages. YES. A beautiful encounter of otherwise unacquainted souls through poetry!