Public Artwork

Words Travel Fast

Art for Commuters, Words Travel Fast, 2007
Subway of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Artwork creator(s): 
Art for Commuters
Text author(s): 
Pohl-Weary, Emily; Schultz, Emily; Whittall, Zoe
Installation year: 
Remarks on location: 

All subway stations of the TTC


Six animations played full-screen on Onestop's network for twelve hours, without interruption from news flashes and marketing

Text of the artwork: 

• Animation: Treading the Word Poetry by Zoe Whittall. Animation by Emma Lopez Hochem.

"You have water, and the word water. You have love and the word love, but the two will never meet. We will lie beneath the letters in a haze of diaphanous pollution and probability, weighing our odds. I love you at the end of a phone call, it hovers, before the click signaling the end of a sentence, then it falls like equivocal truth. We are mostly water. We are mostly love. We are trying to quit smoking and sugar. We are ridding the body of the word Body. We hold red fruit between our teeth. Our gum-lines pink softened typewriter ribbon. We wrap our meat singing corporate jingles. Not dental insurance and you can carry orajel in your purse to stave off crying jags of frustration. You are my heart, and you are my heart stitched into a canvas. I hold thirty coffee beans. I count caloric value. You have water, the word water, and the body is mostly. We hold ours close. We say the words in hopes they are doing their job and not being as indeterminate as they are. Language tries its best. Language gets straight Cs You have kool-aid and the word kool-aid, and the jingle comes when I’m sleeping. The taste is red. We drink water. We drink the word water. We lie beneath the W. We tell each other , You are not filled with lack. We sing beneath the R, Treading the word. The End."

• Animation: Denial chasers Poetry by Zoe Whittall. Animation by Emma Lopez Hochem.

"Under the circumstances I’d like to pretend the drinks you pour me are apostrophes housed in triples disguised as doubles liquor too sweet not to be fire back against boxes of empties surprising you at the pulse of the industrial dishwasher."

• Animation: Leftovers Poetry by Emily Schultz. Animation by Franco Barroeta Fonseca.

"The sky is a damp paper towel laid over the world to stop it from going bad. And you are in the bowl watching the morning light obstructed by layers – the walls of the city sloping gently above you so that the whole world lives within the mouth of a constant yawn. People in transit swim around you with goldfish mouths. Your boss gives you useless gifts to keep you on-board as you stumble home under that grey six o’clock sky watching the clouds for a break – a place where the thick rolls away, giving way to oxygen and earnest light." Emily Schultz

• Animation: Two Minutes (120 per hour) Poetry by Emily Schultz. Animation by Franco Barroeta Fonseca

"The rain folds the night, paper crackling between its arthritic fingers. We drive without talking, without thinking, the world around us an open mouth. The wheels hold us, humming over wet concrete. The searching green-eyed glow of speedometer. A billboard’s bright face against the dark. An exit sign. We follow the arrows, read without reading. Service center like a space station, we find our feet again, unfold-lock up, fumble, walk, and float. The air starched hard against our teeth. We carry out, and swallow sweet. Tonight, tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow, we go, slamming doors, tiny teeth of a key kissing the ignition."

• Animation: To Build A Home Poetry by Emily Pohl-Weary. Animation by Karen Richardson.

"Start with a firm foundation. Place the bricks just so. Avoid regrets, ghosts, fist fights, unemployment, dead cats buried in the garden low self-esteem, petty thievery, bullying, and assisted suicide. Cement should slide in between the scandals, forming bonds and hardening in the hot sun. A roof must bridge the walls. A swing set placed beneath the lilacs. Mousetraps purchased, installed. Finally, despite initial resistance, Erect a high fence around the entirety."

• Animation: My Gold Hair Is So Unreliable Poetry by Emily Pohl-Weary. Animation by Karen Richardson.

"Green light, the city rips past. Rain in Chinatown, fish markets, garbage bags oozing brown urine. Saturday night in dance-club heaven, teenage girls crumble under speeding tires. Lost in the midnight of boy love, Caught in flashes of light I sparkle brightly until hard night wind attacks my miniskirt high heels burn fire fueled by wandering. I always return to your smooth beer drinking, bubbles of love. The taxicab driver tries but he cannot bring me home fast enough Your eyes in the window. I walk up the path My left shoe grazes the curb F***king toes. It might have come from the neighbours, 'I guess I don’t love you' rippled out in all directions."

Artwork theme: 
Stowage of the visual and literary art

Graphic animation: Poetry and motion graphics were paired in the following manner: production of Emily Pohl-Weary (poetry) combined with that of Karen Richardon (graphic animation), Emily Schultz (poetry) with Franco Barroeta Fonseca (graphic animation) and Zoe Whittall (poetry) Hechem with Emma Lopez (graphic animation).


Transmission: With the collaboration of Onestop Media, media company that handles media network including the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), the project was broadcast on screens in the subway TTC. a. "Home".


Words Travel Fast featured the poetry of Toronto-based writers who reflect on the experience of urban life. The motion-poems commissioned for Words Travel Fast emerged from the collaborative pairing of poet Emily Pohl-Weary with motion graphics artist Karen Richardson, poet Emily Schultz with motion graphics artist Franco Barroeta Fonseca, and poet Zoe Whittall with motion graphics artist Emma Lopez.

Artists and poets

Words Travel Fast 07

Group, Onestop_Media (2008).  Words Travel Fast 07. < > : The Art for Commuters

Art for Commuters. Past Projects

A4C (2008).  Art for Commuters. Past Projects. <>