When you’re strolling through a gallery in downtown Manassas or stepping up to the register at your favorite local shop, you may find something unexpected: poetry.
Write by the Rails, a Manassas-based arts group that is the Prince William chapter of the Virginia’s Writer’s Club, launched the “Poems Around Town” initiative in August and now have more than two-dozen pieces of poetry on display in a variety of local businesses in Manassas and throughout Prince William County.
Write by the Rails members were brainstorming about community service ideas and ways to promote local poets when Jan Rayl, the group’s vice president, came up with the idea to get poetry in front of people in unique places. She said the hope is that people will “stop and read a piece of literary art they might not otherwise even glance at, something short that will get them thinking in a different way.”
The poems are written by the group’s members and placed in a standard frame wherever the business would like, said Write By the Rails president Katherine Gotthardt. “The more visible, the better.”
There’s no cost to the businesses and it has been a pretty easy sell — businesses are supporting local artists, and Write by the Rails is promoting the businesses on its website and social media.
“They like to be a part of a community project,” Gotthardt said. “They want to participate in the arts in a unique way.”
The goal is to have 50 businesses hosting the poems.
The public is noticing and reaching out to the group since the poems began popping up last month.
Down the road, this type of collaboration might lead to other community partnerships, like sponsorships for other Write by the Rails projects, including the group’s anthologies.
Gotthardt stressed that this has been a team project, with several group members helping to get the poems out to the businesses.
“It speaks to the club and the people working together,” she said.
For more on how you can host a poem, email Poetry@AllThingsWritingLLC.com.
For more on Write by the Rails, visit www.wbtr.org.