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The Story Behind the Dark Times Square Subway Poem


I remember stumbling thru this “tunnel of gloom” after N! launched our traveling bookstore at the 2014 N.Y.C. Poetry Festival. My friend & I walked under the poem, yelling its verses, slurring “why bother” as the consistent joke of the evening.

In our stupor, we didn’t realize we were wandering under a poem, or realize we were yelling Norman B. Colp‘s verses throughout our night. Titled “A Close Shave” or “The Commuter’s Lament,” the poem lays in imprinted-watch over the bustle of the 42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal.

More from the New York Daily News article by Keri Blakinger:

“The poem was installed back in 1991, as part of a temporary art program started in the late 80s.

The MTA’s whole arts program — formerly called Arts for Transit — was founded in 1985, at a time when long-term art installations were logistically difficult.

A number of the stations were scheduled for major renovations, so permanent art installations didn’t make sense in many locations.

Looking for a way to install art more immediately, the MTA started a temporary arts program.

“It was called Creative Stations and we did five or six of those a year,” Bloodworth said.

There was, of course, a selection process and artists would submit an idea and a suggested location and then a selection panel of arts professionals would pick which proposals to use. Each project had a non-profit sponsor — “A Commuter’s Lament” was sponsored by the City University of New York.”

Read the full article at the NYDN


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