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Poetry to Grace the Back of MetroCards

By Ben Fractenberg | March 27, 2012 3:08pm

MIDTOWN — Now you can get some Robert Frost with your R train ride.

Straphangers slogging through their commutes will soon be able to get a break from the daily grind — with poetry gracing their MetroCards for the first time.

The verses, part of the MTA's renewed Poetry in Motion program, will start to appear on the back of 3 million MetroCards per quarter, about 11 percent of those in circulation.

They will be given out randomly on cards purchased within the system, but some cards will be made available in the Transit Museum, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"The beauty of this program, and of poetry and art in general, is that it can truly transport you," MTA president Thomas Prendergast said at a press conference in Grand Central Terminal.

"It can take you to another place, and sometimes that's exactly what you need when you are standing in a crowded subway car with many other customers."

The MTA is bringing back the poetry after a four-year hiatus. In addition to the MetroCards, about 1,500 subway trains spread over every line will feature a poem accompanied by a new logo and artwork from the transit authority's collection.

The first poem, which is already in subway cars, is "Graduation" by Dorothea Tanning, who died in January at the age of 101.

The poem is paired with the images of plants from Joan Linder's "The Flora of Bensonhurst," which is newly installed, but yet to be unveiled, at the 71st Street D stop in Brooklyn.

The next poem will be unveiled in April, with two poems appearing each season, MTA officials said in a statement.

Former New York State poet laureate, Jean Valentine, said she hopes the poems will help bring relief for people from their daily worries.

"It's a godsend," said Valentine. "It take you to another place, out of your own preoccupations."