Donating Money and MORE for Poetry on the T

Donate now to replace ads with poems on the MBTA.

Poetry on the T has supporters who not only give but take an active part in promoting the new program. One of those activists is Mark Schorr of the Robert Frost Foundation.  Here is his account of his participation.Mark Schorr

Long before I ever saw Boston, I knew that the T and poetry should go together. My generation heard the Kingston Trio sing ”The M.T.A. Song”, also known as “Charlie on the M.T.A.”   Now through a timely campaign, Mass Poetry is helping to keep Poetry on the M.T.A by placing inspiring and engaging contemporary poems in the ad space on the T.

On the first Thursday of the campaign, to celebrate this project, the Robert Frost Foundation went to Harvard Square with a street amp and postcards to make T riders aware of the new program. Mass Poetry handed out postcards at Park Street as well. Many people welcomed the poem into their busy day.  Because it was Harvard Square, a few stopped in their tracks and read the poem on the spot. Several stopped because it was a Marge Piercy poem, “To Be of Use,” which begins as follows

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

A few rebuffed it.

—Poem for today?
—No, I’m good thanks.

But over several hours, more than a hundred people opened themselves to Marge Piercy’s lyrics.

Turns out the melody of the “Charlie on the M.T.A.”  was taken from an old ballad  The Ship That Never Returned (899K) (mp3), written in 1865 by Henry Clay Work, and updated by the Kingston Trio, as ballads should be.

If you think that poetry belongs on our public transit, or even if you don’t, please support Mass Poetry. You can find more about this project at and contribute the  Indie Go Go campaign at ontheT