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Student poetry marking Madison buses

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MADISON (WKOW) -- This month, poetry from local high school students will be installed on Madison's city buses. It's part of a contest aimed at inspiring young writers.

Now, riders will find a bit of verse, a touch of whimsy and perhaps a reason to smile on their commute.

"People do make a comment that it just starts their day out well or ends their day out well," Mick Roush, with Madison Metro said.

The Madison Arts Commission and Madison Metro challenged local high schoolers to put pen to paper in the city-wide contest.

"It's a question of how do the arts interact with the fabric of city," Madison Poet Laureate Sarah Busse explained. "It's the cultural life of your city, it's how vibrant does your city feel?"

This week the best of the best are beginning to go up on 200 city buses. Soon, all will feature the eight winning student entries. The theme was "In Motion" so fittingly bus riders will be able to read the poems while in motion. They are short, just three to five lines, but pack a lot of meaning.

"That's very challenging especially today in the culture of the spoken word, students are so interested in the longer form," Busse said.

But many students were up to the task, take this winning entry from Maria Avina:

                   It's okay to fail,

                   it just means you can keep on improving.

                   And that's what keeps life moving.

Or "Quilt Flight" by Isabel Karp:

                   From thirty thousand feet,

                   Nature's quilt sewn

                   by farmers

"I wrote it while I was on a plane, so it was kind of movement from above," winner Isabel Karp, from Madison Memorial High said.

Now in its fourth year, the contest has become an annual tradition for the city. Riders love it and so do the students, it's not everyday they can get published in such a moving way.

"I think it's really awesome because a lot of my friends use the bus and then they can see it," Karp added.

The winning poetry will be displayed all year on Madison Metro buses. Click here to read the top eight poems.

Organizers of the competition say it has been so popular they're planning to extend entry to the entire community. Next year, they expect to allow anyone, not just students to submit their poems to the judges.

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