If you are already excited to finally begin using the Tucson Modern Streetcar in 2014, a project that has been under construction since March 2012, now you have one more reason. Collaborating with the launch of the streetcar, the UA Poetry Center will be adding their own artistic flair to the long-awaited transit project with custom LCD poetry “reader boards” at nine of the 17 streetcar stops.
“While we are still developing the process by which we will provide poetry content to the reader boards, we know that we will be submitting short poems to the City of Tucson on a regular basis,” said Gail Browne, the executive director of the UA Poetry Center who will be replaced by Tyler Meier this coming fall. Meier and the Poetry Center will be tasked with procuring and clearing licensing rights to various poems that reflect the current season or specific values of the Tucson community.
Browne was approached by Tucson artists Ben Olmstead, a UA alumnus, and Simon Donavon, both who locally excel in fine art and performance art mediums, to develop the poetry boards.
Donavon and Olmstead are no strangers to high-grade street art, having worked on installations at Reid Park Zoo, Tucson International Airport and the iconic Diamondback Bridge that spans south Park Avenue, a gigantic pathway that resembles one of the desert’s most feared snakes. While there is art to be curated for each of the 17 stops, it’s the blending of the Poetry Center’s top-notch literary contributions, and Olmstead and Donavon’s contemporary art stylings that’s sure to be the highlight of the streetcar line.
Though Browne is leaving the Poetry Center, her efforts to create this partnership with the city are part of the legacy she leaves behind.
“We’re delighted by this opportunity to take poetry out of the Poetry Center and bring it directly to the community,” she said.