Poetry and Art in the Bus

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Poetry and drawings are needed for the “Poetry and Art in the Bus” project contest. In order to participate, people must attend free workshops in Salina Free Library, 100 Belmont St, Mattydale, Apr 1, 1pm; Baldwinsville Library, 33 E. Genesee St, Baldwinsville, Apr 8, 10 am; Beauchamp Branch Library, 2111 S. Salina St, Syracuse, Apr 8, 2pm; White Branch Library, 763 Butternut St, Syracuse, Apr 15, 1pm; Onondaga Free Library, 4840 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, Apr 22, 11am.

For more information, call Martin Willitts Jr; 607-316-7928, or

You must live in Onondaga County to participate in the workshops and contest.

You do not have to be a published poet or a professional artist, but professional poets and artists are also invited to attend. All ages are encouraged to participate. This project will also include participants from the adult student of the English As A Second Language program through BOCES.

The goal is to display art and poetry within 50 Centro buses. Some of the art work might be repeated, depending on the final results. The poems will be limited to 9 lines and/or 50 words, and the drawings will be limited to black and white drawing. The drawings and poetry will be theme related.

Due to the general theme topic, the audience will participate in a discussion on this topic and create words to express these ideas. Participants will be building a vocabulary of images which could be used to write the poems or create the drawings. During the process, the audience will also be encouraged to have a dialog with each other about their new creation. This is both a creative process and a brainstorming process.

The poetry workshops will guide people to write a new poem within the time limits, using words selected by the audience to help inspire new poems and avoid “writer’s block.” The poems will be restricted to space considerations, focused on positive messages, and thematic relationship.

 The art workshops will guide people to create a new drawing based on the theme, using 8 ½ x 11 paper using art tools. The artists will need to use bold, black lines and not worry about detail. The workshop will focus on interpreting the theme in a short time period.

At the end of the joint session, all drawings and poetry will be collected. During the collection process, all items will be scanned or reproduced for the next stage of the process which is the actual selection of the drawings and poetry.

The selection of material to be selected by the general public at the Betts Branch Library, 4862 S. Salina, Syracuse, Sat, May 6th, 2pm. Winning poems and drawings will be displayed in random Centro buses. Centro buses cover the area of Onondaga County and also are used at the New York State Fair, which means some of the fair riders also will see some of the poems and drawings.

The selection of material will be decided during this open workshop. The public will be invited to select the final poems and artwork while learning how to develop a critical eye, and how to pair material in design. Actual participants within the poetry and art creation will not be allowed to judge their own material. However, they will listen to how others judge their artwork. This allows the artist to receive feedback.

After the final material is selected, the actual layout will be start. The winning drawings will be matted for a final art display. The winning poems will be reproduced in a small booklet. These steps will be used to the final program.

Also during this time, the final layout will become a file for the printer. The printer will make all the displays for the Centro buses. The display cards will be provided to Centro to be displayed in Centro buses. This means that thousands of Centro bus users could potentially see these posters. Centro buses also are used at the New York State Fair, which means thousands of people outside Onondaga County could see the posters.

The final program will be a joint reading and art show. It will be free and open to the public. Art and poetry will be displayed around the room. Poets will be encouraged to read their poems and artists will be encouraged to talk about their art. The goal is to have over 100 people participating in the final program.

The workshops will be conducted by nationally and internationally published poet, Martin Willitts Jr, and nationally known artist, Michael Sickler.

Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, New York. He was nominated for 15 Pushcart and 12 Best of the Net awards. Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; and, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice.  He has over 20 chapbooks including National Chapbook Contest winning “William Blake, Not Blessed Angel but Restless Man” and National Contest Turtle Island Editor’s Choice Award for his chapbook, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press). He has over 10 full-length books including “National Ecological Award winner “Searching for What You Cannot See” (Hiraeth Press, 2013), and “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press, 2016).

Michael Sickler is a retired professor emeritus of painting, drawing and Art History at Syracuse University. he was the chairman of the Studio Arts department and chair of the Visiting Artist program. He taught at Syracuse for forty years and now divides his time between collage painting and poetry. Sickler has exhibited in Museums, internationally, nationally, regionally and locally and has work in over one hundred private, corporate, and university collections. He has lectured in: England, Italy and Poland on art. He has written six chapbooks of poetry. Michael Sickler has been nominated for the Pushcart prize three times and has been in 13 national publications and won awards in three national publications. He is co-editor of the local literary magazine, Comstock Review.

This project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.

For more information, call Martin Willitts Jr; 607-316-7928, or

Posted On: April 13, 2017
Listed As: Arts Forum