Poetry on the COMET

Telling the Stories of Columbia

The Columbia Poet Laureate Ed Madden, One Columbia for Arts and History, and The COMET partnered to bring poetry to The COMET in Fall 2015.  Starting in the Summer of 2015, poems were collected under the theme “Story of the City.” The prompts included:

How would you tell the city’s story? What story would you tell? Where did you go? What did you see? What conversation did you hear? What did you taste? What is your Columbia? Who is your Columbia?


“One of my goals as the city’s laureate is to get poems in public places and the literary arts into our daily lives. The Poems on The COMET project does that—it makes poetry part of the life of the city,” said Madden.  “Also I’m delighted that we have included a number of young writers as well.”

Almost 90 writers submitted more than 200 poems for consideration.  There were poems about riding the bus, about historical events and significant places in the city, and about daily life in the Midlands.  Madden and a committee of other poets narrowed it down to 51 poems from 45 writers, 7 of them students in Richland and Lexington County middle schools.  There is a range of voices—established writers, emerging writers, writers active in the local spoken word and/or arts community, musicians, and young writers.

The COMET has been involved in many community events and projects such as, Famously Hot New Year 2015 and strives to introduce people across the Midlands to public transit.  In addition to meeting the needs of their current riders, The COMET also focuses on introducing transit to non-riders as well.  Poetry 101 is where public transit and public art meets.

The Poetry 101 event will be held 3:30-6:00pm. on Sunday, November 1.  A number of poets will be reading on Route 101 North Main, rotating at select stops.  After the rolling reading, the event will proceed at the Tapp’s Arts Center (1644 Main), where there will be light refreshments, a poetry reading, and chapbooks of the bus poems provided by One Columbia. Anyone who would like to ride along with the poets should report at the Sumter Street Transit Center (1780 Sumter) at 3:30pm. Limited seating, first come, first served.

Poems are currently displayed on all buses and on The COMET bus schedules which can be viewed at http://catchthecomet.org/routes.

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