‘The Poet Is In’ at the Fulton Center

People wait in line at the Fulton Center on Thursday to have a poet create a poem for them. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

People wait in line at the Fulton Center on Thursday to have a poem created for them. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

It is a sound that hasn’t been heard for some time: the clack clack of typewriters. At the Fulton Center Thursday, beige typewriters were an integral part of an event called “Poetry in Motion: The Poet Is In.”

Busy commuters rushed below while people waited patiently in line to have an audience with one of four poets seated at white desks furnished with bright lamps and sienna-colored flowers. Once seated, the scribe would ask some questions, perhaps who was your first love, and use it to compose a poem. The bard would pound the keys, using paper that had a carbon copy. Upon completion, the poet would read the verse aloud, sign it and give it the person who inspired it.

Tobin Low, 28, had specifically come to the Fulton Center for the poetry celebration. As it was his birthday, he and the poet, Matthea Harvey, talked about the best present he ever received and what he found beautiful that others may not. Low, who lives in Crown Heights, said he loved the poem.

The all-day event was a joint venture between the M.T.A. Arts & Design and the Poetry Society of America to celebrate National Poetry Month. Poetry in Motion — poems that are displayed throughout the transit system — was reinstated in 2012, explained Amy Hausmann, deputy director of M.T.A. Arts & Design. Marie Howe, New York state poet laureate, had suggested the personal poetry interaction and it had been part of last year’s Poetry in Motion spring fest at Grand Central, she said.

This year, said Hausmann, Arts & Design wanted to have it in Lower Manhattan at the newly minted Fulton Center, which opened late last year. Retail has yet to fill up the massive transit hub, and at other times besides rush hour, it can feel empty.

Charif Shanahan, programs director for the Poetry Society of America, said poets jumped at the chance to engage the public with poetry, albeit some were a bit nervous. Around 25 poets spun their verse throughout the day.

Poet Kamilah Aisha Moon  chats with a woman before creating a poem for her at the Fulton Center. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Poet Kamilah Aisha Moon chats with a woman before composing a poem for her at the Fulton Center. Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

When poet Kamilah Aisha Moon asked Ruth Greene, 39, about a good memory from her childhood in Trinidad, her grandmother leaped to mind. Greene, who lives in Brooklyn, said she didn’t know about the event, she was going to get food, but felt moved by Moon’s line about her grandmother — “She was the family crown.”

“She captured it,” she said.

DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

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