Causin' a fuss, there goes the Poetry Bus

50 cities, 50 days, an unbelievably broad collection of words, cups of coffee, and idiosyncratic writers numbering over 30. All on one bus. There you have the vague definition of the biggest poetry tours of all time—the Wave Books Poetry Bus Tour. The modest white coach whose wheels rolled out of Seattle, WA on Sept. 4 paid a visit to Ames last week, sharing its talented contents with members of the community and school district. On Wednesday, Sept. 13, a handful of poets travelling across America on the Poetry Bus held a writing workshop for Ames High students. Participants were introduced to several innovative methods of producing poetry, then challenged to test the waters of creativity themselves. With nothing but a pen and photocopy of a random page from an essay about America, each student produced a work of literary art by crossing out unwanted words or phrases, thus creating a poem from the words remaining on the page. The task then shifted to, in pairs, taking turns saying a word, until a complete poem was written down. “Through the workshop, I discovered new methods of writing poetry and learned that I don’t always have to take writing so seriously,” senior Ege Inanc said. Inanc was also one of many Ames residents who attended a reading at the Octagon Center for the Arts on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at which eight poets from the tour shared their work. Each with her own unique style, subjects, and writing process, the readers gave the audience a taste of the versatility and creativity that lies within the world of poetry. “Hearing the poets read their pieces and seeing the individual quirks they had while reading, that just made me view poetry in a new light,” Inanc said. Award-winning poet Joshua Beckerman, one of the organizers of the tour, said he arrived at the idea of a poetry bus after travelling on his own to read his writing. “I thought of the Poetry Bus after seeing people in Europe do this same thing by train and touring by myself with a car,” he said. “It’s the same thing but on a larger scale, and I thought it’d be a really fun time.” According to members of the tour and the poets’ blog recording their journey in the words of true writers, the beginnings of the tour have been quite the interesting experience. But as they can all admit to, it takes a time, dedication, and talent to reach the status of poor, starving poet. Travis Nichols, a poet on the bus and an Ames High graduate (1997) recalled his earlier writing days: “The thing that was helpful about high school was that there was always a lot going on. Writing about those things, using what was going on around me as practice, helped me to see it all more clearly.” “Even though most of the time what I wrote was really bad, it built a foundation for my writing,” he said. As the Poetry Bus prepared to leave Ames for its next destination, Nichols offered the students of Ames High a few words of wisdom: “Read a lot. And it’s important to listen to your teachers, but not all the time.”