Bus Lines gets poetry competition moving

Group invites University students, community members to submit original short work

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Charlottesville Bus Lines, a local association which solicits poetry from students and Charlottesville residents to display inside city buses, announced its annual contest this week.

The organization represents a partnership between the Charlottesville Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Charlottesville Area Transit and Charlottesville City Schools. Bus Lines first opened the poetry contest in 2009 and now receives up to 300 submissions per contest from a variety of schools.

Bus Lines spokesperson Sue Berres said the contest allows students and Charlottesville residents to have an outlet for their creativity.

“[The purpose is] to allow people of all ages and talents and interests to have a space to display their poetry and their creative writing skills in a very public forum,” Berres said. “I think a lot of people think it’s great fun to have something they’ve created out there in public and there are not a lot of venues for that unless you’re extremely good. Everyone’s got a lot to say and it’s fun to put it out there.”

CAT spokesperson Wesley Kern said the contest also encourages people to use public transportation more frequently.

“It’s great outreach, it’s a great opportunity to introduce people to public transportation,” Kern said. “It’s kind of a gateway into using public transportation and seeing what we have to offer.”

Kern also said the program receives submissions from many different schools in Charlottesville and from kids of all ages, as well as from some older residents. Submissions for the contest are due Nov. 28, and winners will be announced in January.

“We have multiple schools high schools, middle schools and elementary schools that participate,” Kern said. “A lot of English teachers get excited about the program because they can use it as a project for their classrooms during the academic year. Last year, we selected 40 winners and each poem was reproduced for two separate buses. We put that list out on our website so they could actually go out on the road and find those poems.”

Those who are selected will also have the opportunity to read their poems aloud at the Festival of the Book .

“The people at the reading are really appreciative — they’re excited about it, and happy to spread the word and to get more people in general doing it,” Berres said.

Berres, one of the judges of this year’s submissions, said she hopes CAT riders will enjoy the poems as well.

“I hope it gives them [the riders] something to think about, something to make them laugh,” Berres said. “My criteria are [that] I would want to come across the poem randomly in the day and would [still] enjoy it.”

Though University students have not traditionally submitted poems, both Berres and Kern said they welcome submissions from anyone interested.

“It’s been a while since we’ve gotten anyone from U.Va. that I can recall, but we would really love to get some University students,” Kern said.

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