A Poet's Corner is coming to a DART near you


A "POETS' Corner" is coming soon to the DART, Dublin's suburban rail service. It's a new concept from Poetry in Motion, the people who introduced poetry on the DART a decade ago.

Last summer the poems quietly slipped away to be replaced by advertisements for alcoholic lemonade beer, boots and lingerie. CIE had sold off its commuter advertising network franchise to a private company and soon it was a case of "I think that I shall never see, a poem ..." on the DART.

The Poetry in Motion people, who had been choosing the poems for commuter contemplation, did not rail. They waited. Then they talked to the new franchisees. "You might as well be saying `beetroot'," recalled Mr Jonathan Williams. He and Mr Raymond Kyne, who designed the layout for the verses, are Poetry in Motion.

Iarnrod Eireann was not too happy either. Letters were being received from regular DART travellers inquiring about the absent verses. Besides, as an Iarnrod spokesman said, the poems added "a touch of class" to the DART.

They were sort of a "lifestyle" thing which played a part in the service being "extremely successful at getting people out of the car". They were even important in making the idea of the Luas acceptable, he believed.

Tramlines, they might call them, poems on the Luas. Or plain Poems on the Loose.

And wasn't it nice, continued the Iarnrod Eireann spokesman, for "a cash-strapped company to be able to support the arts". To be up there with the big financial institutions. And which of them could say they brought poetry "to 75,000 people a day?".

The Iarnrod spokesman was getting into his stride. "We are well aware we brought poetry to a mass audience," he said, "and we are driven by the need to get them [poems] back up." They are on track to do so, too.

Just before Christmas, they had talks with the Poetry in Motion duo as to how they might assist the Muse in its eternal battle with Mammon. And they found a way the ends being the means.

At the end of each carriage a space will be set aside where poems - four in each carriage - will be posted. "Poets' Corner" it will be called.

The poems will be longer, the design will be in colour and they will be changed "every couple of weeks", not every couple of months as was the case. It is also hoped the poems may be sent to schools and be posted up in railway stations and bus stations.

The first four poems will be by Irish poets Bernard O'Donoghue and Raftery, Emily Dickinson of the US and England's Tony Harrison.

So there Mr Mammon, put that in your alcoholic soft drink and ... well, drink it. As for the advertising company, it's "beetroot" to them.