Standing in the crush of people on the subway during rush hour, you might have looked up and noticed the occasional poem among the ads for companies, stores, and events. These poems appear as a part of Poetry on the T, an initiative by Mass Poetry to bring poetry into public spaces. This month, a poem by one of Suffolk’s own is featured: “A Place at the Table” by poet and Professor Emeritus Fred Marchant.
The poem will appear on the Red Line from August 14 until September 14. “We think the public will connect with ‘A Place at the Table’ and we are thrilled to feature it on the T,” said Laurin Macios, program director of Mass Poetry. “It is a poem that you keep thinking about long after reading it.” Mass Poetry chooses poems with a strong Massachusetts connection to feature on the T, so one of Marchant’s poems was a natural choice.
Marchant is renowned in both the national and Boston poetry communities. He taught at Suffolk for 31 years and is also the author of four books of poetry. Although he retired from teaching last spring, Marchant remains active at Suffolk. He recently founded the Suffolk University Poetry Project, which will provide a platform for poets in both the Suffolk and greater Boston community through readings, conversations with writers, writing retreats, conferences, and symposiums.
Of all his poems, “A Place at the Table” has a special Suffolk connection for Marchant. He began writing it on campus, inspired by talking with his colleagues at a meeting around a conference table. “I’m really happy and honored that they would choose that poem,” he said.
Poetry on the T is part of the Poetry in Public Spaces program, which Mass Poetry launched in April to coincide with National Poetry Month. “Poetry on the T serves to inspire and enrich the community, helps to broaden the audience for poetry, and takes poetry to the people rather than requiring them to seek it out,” Macios said.
Marchant praised the Poetry on the T program, saying that the public use of the poems can often have a private impact.
“Mass Poetry clearly believes in the virtues and the benefits of people reading poems, even while sitting on the subway or maybe especially while sitting on the subway,” Marchant said. “[The poems] might play a subtle or important part in someone’s life or the person may be inspired to explore other poetry.