Poetry in Motion

Beginning as a public art project in 2019, Poetry in Motion has run until 2023, its fifth and final year. At the core of Poetry in Motion each year has been the installation of 10 short poems in ad spaces aboard Halifax Transit buses, providing a unique opportunity for transit passengers to look up from their screens; to recognize how they move among their fellow residents and visitors; and to think about how a place becomes exceptional.

Because they are so crucial to our lives, it’s easy to overlook how unique transit buses are as public spaces: they are intimate microcosms of their city, accidental gatherings of diverse residents, and paradoxical places that both define and transcend the cartographic and geographic spaces between communities. For these reasons, the daily bus commute is a singular opportunity to surprise, inspire, and provoke reflection through encounters with public poetry.

In 2023, the final year of Poetry in Motion, poems from all five years of the program will be published in a retrospective anthology, printed by Gaspereau Press and available for purchase in the fall of 2023.

The 2023 submission theme, “joy,” was open to broad interpretation—including happiness, delight, glee, festivity, or ecstasy; the objects, causes, or sources of joy; the joystick, the joyride, the killjoy, schadenfreude, or other complications of joy; and other meanings, qualities, and impacts of joy.

Selected poets: Rose Adams, Thekla Altmann, Tim Covell, Ben Gallagher, Logan Lawrence, James Lee, Annick MacAskill, Jamie Samson, Margo Wheaton, and Darryl Whetter.

Jury: Nayani Jensen, Marilyn Smulders (of WFNS), and Andy Verboom (of WFNS).

The 10 selected poems will appear inside Halifax Transit buses from October, 2023, into spring of 2024. They will also be featured in our retrospective anthology, Omnibus: Five Years of Poetry in Motion, available for purchase through our online shop. Poem ads, as well as the Omnibus cover and title pages, were designed and illustrated by Sarah MacDonald.

Click on a poem below to view a larger version. 

The 2022 submission theme, “water,” was open to broad interpretation—including fresh or salt water, water protection, water as livelihood or life, the element or natural force of water, fluidity or adaptability, erosion or sedimentation, and other meanings, qualities, and impacts of water.

Selected poets: Rose Adams, Tammy Armstrong, Douglas Burnet Smith, Dian Day, Michael Goodfellow, Nayani Jensen, Annick MacAskill, Briony Merritt, Shannon Webb-Campbell, and Margo Wheaton.

Jury: Jaime Forsythe, Christina McRae, and Andy Verboom (of WFNS).

The 10 selected poems appeared inside Halifax Transit buses from October, 2022, into spring of 2023. They were also printed on postcards, which were delivered to Meals on Wheels clients in the Halifax area—one poem per week over 10 weeks—and are available for purchase through our online shop. Poem ads and postcards were designed and illustrated by Sarah MacDonald.

Click on a poem below to view a larger version. 

The 2021 submission theme, “connection,” was open to broad interpretation—including belonging, nearness or distance, friendship or kinship, correspondence or coincidence, physical or virtual contact, literal or metaphorical passageways, ecological or social responsibility, or other kinds of connectivity.

Poetry in Motion (4)

Selected poets: Deborah Banks, Brian Bartlett, Joanne Bealy, Susan Drain, Anna Elmira, Carole Glasser Langille, Christina McRae, Robin Metcalfe, Martha Mutale, and Leanne Schneider.

Jury: Tiffany Morris, Marilyn Smulders (of WFNS), and Evelyn C. White.

The 2021 Poetry in Motion Celebration was held virtually on November 16, 2021, and featured readings by all ten selected poets.

The 10 selected poems appeared inside Halifax Transit buses from October, 2021, into spring of 2022. They were also printed on postcards and delivered to 450 Meals on Wheels clients in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville, and Bedford—one poem per week over 10 weeks. Poem ads and postcards were designed and illustrated by Sarah MacDonald.

Click on a poem below to view a larger version. 

The 2020 submission theme, “journeys,” was open to broad interpretation—including journeys outward, journeys back home, the passage of time, and other forms of travel, transportation, & exploration.

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Selected poets: Sue Goyette, Asha Jeffers, Nanci Lee, Vanessa Lent, Tiffany Morris, Nolan Natasha, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Anna Quon, Samantha Sternberg, and Evelyn C. White.

Jury: Karen Dahl (of Halifax Public Libraries), Jaime Forsythe, and Sylvia D. Hamilton.

In 2020, with pandemic conditions prohibiting the annual Poetry in Motion Celebration, we shared the work of participating poets in video form. View the full reading, or jump to a specific poem by clicking any video below.

In October, 2020, posters were installed on Halifax Transit buses in the HRM and Transit Cape Breton buses in Sydney. Posters were designed and illustrated by Sarah MacDonald.

Click on a poem below to view a larger version. 

The 2019 submission theme, “home,” was open to broad interpretation—including ideas of transport, transit, accessibility, the East Coast, city living, coming home, and leaving home.

Selected poets: Afua Cooper, Jaime Forsythe, Sue Goyette, Shauntay Grant, Sylvia D. Hamilton, Shalan Joudry, Cory Lavender, Matt Robinson, Eleonore Schönmaier, and Anne Simpson.

Jury: Karen Dahl (of Halifax Public Libraries), Andre Fenton, Amanda Peters, and Alison Smith.

The 2019 Poetry in Motion Celebration, held at Halifax Central Library on November 4, 2019, and hosted by Alison Smith, winner of the 2019 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award. The event featured readings by Afua Cooper, Sylvia D. Hamilton, Cory Lavender, and Matt Robinson.

In October, 2019, posters were installed on Halifax Transit buses in the HRM. Posters were illustrated by Jack Wong.

Click on a poem below to view a larger version. 

Investors and Partners

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is grateful to Arts Nova Scotia for their investment in Poetry in Motion and to Halifax Public Libraries and Halifax Regional Municipality for their annual partnership in realizing this program.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those with no professional publications (yet!) or a few short professional publications (i.e., poems, stories, or essays in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with numerous professional publications and/or one book-length publication.
  • Established writers/authors: those with two book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short publications.
  • Professional authors: those with more than two book-length publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for participant-to-participant feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca