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Public poetry / Get on the Bus / Buffalo Itineraries

Not many books better to be published in than an NFTA bus shelter. This poem is in love with my influences and itineraries, w/nods to the city of Buffalo. Deep gratitude to @justbuffalolit and @noahfalck and NFTA workers for making this happen. This poem is for my friend and poet Simeon Berry.


“Today our skyscrapers and houses don’t consider poetic writing as part of their structure. This fact says everything about the nature of our silence.” -Heriberto Yépez / Not that this is as playful/subversive as Yépez’s Public Visual Poems. But poetry needs to be written into public space.


Mindful, also, of the NFTA’s need to raise entry-level pay for drivers and the expansion of public transportation in Buffalo, which is in exceptional need and an awful place to not have a car in the winter.


Also surprised to find the poem placed outside of Buffalo’s monumental city hall, in Niagara Square. City Hall: our marriage was made legal there. City Hall under this mayor has not been good for public transportation or freedom of movement, putting clout behind creative-class-luring gimmicks like plans for app-pay electric scooters downtown, backing police checkpoints, dumping more and more $ into the police, who, in turn, disproportionately target the Black community. Niagara Square: I know mostly as a place of protest, the cops cracking Martin Gugino’s skull, futures revealed in the scale and energy of the BLM protests, touch-point of plans in organizing, organizing following what happens here. A symbolic terrain of struggle. Literal Nazis come here, neo-confederates, boot-lickers, the former Sheriff, our local far-right paramilitary goons. What’s a poem on the margins of this?


Ppl doing their thing, around the circle, city hall, the courthouse, the jail. Buffalo’s triptych. I’d write a different ending if I’d known where this one would go! It is where it is. Consider this the volta.

Filed under: Poems in Print

About the Author

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Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone's Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag, terrain.org, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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