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Posted on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 11:07 a.m.

Poetry from the Ozone House rides The Ride

By Jordan Miller

Ads on buses (and all forms of public transit) work mostly because no one wants to get caught looking directly at each other. It's much easier, and more socially correct, to stare at the seat in front of you, out the window, or just randomly toward the ceiling.

So what a wonderful surprise when you have something good to look at.

J Miller 826 Bus Poem

This poem is on the Route 4A Washtenaw bus. In case you can't read it (sorry, I took the photo with my phone), I'll reproduce it for you:

Beauty is you - the Best you could ever have You IS what makes Me.

The poem, "Beauty," was written by Rebecca Elledge.

The poems have been placed in 70 buses, for two months, through the joint efforts of 826 Michigan, Ozone House, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. They were written by the young people of Ozone House, a local nonprofit that provides shelter and support services to runaway, homeless, and at-risk young people and their families. 826 Michigan, another local nonprofit, supports students with their creative and expository writing skills. Their interns and volunteers spent two months this summer working with the kids at Ozone House, helping them develop their skills as poets.

The program culminated in a release party at the AATA Ypsilanti Transit Center on August 4, where the poems were unveiled.

Amy Sumerton, 826 Michigan program director (and contributor), said that one of the best aspects of this project is that the kids get to see their work published; they're taken seriously in a way they may never have been taken seriously before.

"There's something about publishing," she said. "People love seeing their name in print. It's universal."

J Miller 826 Bus Poem 2

Amy compared the program to others in major cities, including New York and Chicago, where poetry is similarly displayed on buses and subways. The difference, she pointed out, is that those poems are written by famous authors, while these come from local kids.

"In New York you get on the subway and there's a Keats poem," she said. "In Ann Arbor, there's a poem by a local kid."

Which, in my opinion, is way cooler.

Jordan Miller is the lead blogger for The Deuce. She can be reached via E-mail at A2jordanmiller [at], or on Twitter: _jordanmiller_