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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

Filed under: Essays

About the Author

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Jeremiah Walton is wary of bios, but there's the current sign they're flying: “Jeremiah Walton is founder of Nostrovia! Press & traveling bookstore Books & Shovels. They’ve featured at the NYC Poetry Festival, Oakland Beast Crawl, San Francisco Lit Crawl, Death Rattle, the Kansas City Poetry Throwdown, Cleveland’s Guide to Kulchur: Snoetry, among other lit fests, street corners, & living rooms across the country. They loath-themselves, & are struggling to find a healthy extension of the poem that incorporates publishing. Consistently confused, & trying to make space for compassion for the parts of myself I hate.” That feels like tattooing "love me" across my neck, but hopefully you get to know me thru my poems, not the accolades that are nothing more than memories to let go of.

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