Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Starting Thursday, yellow taxi passengers will find something new in the back of their cabs. It's not a stranger's cell phone. It's a poem.
Poems like “Graduation,” by Dorothea Tanning and “Noche de Lluvia, San Salvador,” by Aracelis Girmay will appear at various times in the city’s 13, 237 cabs on the loop of Taxi TV that is refreshed every two hours.
The 15-second, silent, animated poems are an expansion of the MTA’s popular Poetry in Motion program that posts verses next to dermatology and mattress ads on the city’s subways.
At the announcement of the literary partnership between subways and cabs in Times Square on Thursday, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said he thinks when New Yorkers see the new content, they will be less likely to switch off the unpopular TV screens in the back of taxis.
"When there's something worth watching people keep the screens on and I think these poems are absolutely worth reading and absorbing," he said.
Yassky read a poem that he wrote himself for the occasion:
…And topping all, the sundae’s cherry, making us gleeful and so merry is your partnership with the TLC, beautifying the Taxi TV, for I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a taxi. When raindrops fall like an autumn leaf, an empty cab is sweet relief.
Thursday is also Poem in Your Pocket Day, on which poetry fans are encouraged to choose a poem and carry it with them before sharing it with a co-worker, friend or a family member.
Taxi passengers: What do you think about poems in taxis? Will verses keep you from turning off the monitor in a cab? Let us know in the comments below and check out some of Yassky's verses here: