This is a guest post by media specialist Laura Whitley.
For poet Marie Brown, inspiration can come from the most unexpected places - including a METRO Bus.
A piece she titled "Sunset" sat unfinished for more than a decade. Then the award-winning slam poet found the words she needed to complete her piece by watching other passengers on the bus. Brown turned to METRO, out of necessity, nearly two years ago when her car was totaled. The Houston grandmother did not expect finding another form of transportation would deliver a new source of material.
"It's really helping me write. I need lots of characters and when you see different people on the bus that's your character, and you just build off of it. I used to always get "I" in conduct for daydreaming in school, and here I am 59 years-old, daydreaming again, and it feels great," Brown said.
Still, riding isn't all about dreaming for Brown. She especially enjoys experiencing the best of humanity at work like when she watches fellow passengers treat one another with kindness and compassion, or when a group of young people laugh together and talk. It makes her feel better connected to society and open to trying new things.
"I know on the news you see everything that's done wrong, but those little things I see along the rail or the bus that go unnoticed, and it really means a lot. It makes me feel good."
Another path Brown is now exploring is sharing her spoken word talent in new METRO commercials. She approached agency staff last fall at a community event with suggestions and some transit-inspired writing. That eventually led to her being asked to participate in the new "Drive Less. Do More" campaign.
"I'm very excited, bursting with joy. I'm honored," said Brown.
Brown's list of honors is long. She was the first woman to earn a spot on the Houston Poetry Slam Team and currently coaches the group. Brown honed her craft of public speaking as a member of the Texas Southern University debate team under the guidance of the legendary Dr. Thomas F. Freeman. Even though Brown expects to purchase a new car before the end of the year, her plans don't include giving up her Q Card.
"Once I get my car, I am still going to ride the METRO," Brown promised. "If I get a loss for words, if I need a character, I'm going to say, 'Ok let me ride the bus a couple of times.'"
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