These days, asking New Yorkers how they feel about the subway will usually elicit a strong, negative reaction. The subway is the only public transportation option for most people — but thanks to delays, breakdowns, and crowded cars, it’s far from their favorite one.
Eugene Lang College professor and alum Allen Strouse, Liberal Arts ‘08, isn’t like most New Yorkers: his love of the subway inspired him to write Transfer Queen, a new book of poetry with accompanying illustrations by Patty Barth.
“I love the subway! I love the subway for its trashiness, its punk-rock refusal to be efficient, its raw humanity and its diversity, its cruisiness, its continued weirdness despite gentrification,” says Strouse. “So, for several months, every time I boarded a train, I wrote one poem for each ‘man’ in the car, loosely defined. Transfer Queen captures subway strangers in poetry.”
Strouse hopes that readers of his book grow to share his appreciation for their fellow subway riders. He credits Lang with allowing him the creative freedom to explore such an offbeat topic.
“As a Lang alum and as a Lang professor, I credit the school with ennobling my poet’s desire to pursue any and every idea — no matter how seemingly outré —to embrace each idiosyncratic impulse as a contribution to the world,” says Strouse. “In other words, I think Lang is where we outsiders can learn how to harness our beautiful quirks for the common good.”
Strouse will read from Transfer Queen on September 20th at 7pm at Bluestockings, along with several other Punctum Books authors, including fellow Lang professor Dominic Pettman.