In stock (can be backordered)

ISBN: 978-0-9994471-6-1
Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Rapid Transit

Publication Date: March 2018


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Rapid Transit was originally published by Nomadic.


Rapid Transit is a humorous and poignant romp down the rusting tracks of American public transit, filled with haunting and colorful characters—those we wish to embrace, run from, those we see ourselves reflected in. It begs the question: do we ever truly reach our destinations?


In Rapid Transit, Naughton questions what’s universal while navigating creeps, near-death, and the monotonous process of dehumanization. Her fantasies and musings about public transit are both familiar and disturbing, not unlike a commute itself. I felt such relief in recognition.
Deirdre Coyle, author of How to Talk to Writers at Parties

These “stories about commuting” straddle the line between poetry and memoir, and do so exceedingly well, thanks to Naughton’s gifts of concision and depth. It’s not easy living with other people at any time, but especially not on the buses, streetcars, and BART trains of the San Francisco Bay Area. A gross guy could plop himself down next to you just as easy as a hot one. And always the smell of vomit to usher in your morning and see out your evening—with work in between. The book’s forte is the poet’s ability to see through the built-in dirt of mass transit, into something of splendor and solidarity, a consciousness of the value of “infrastructure.” Muriel Rukeyser, the Bay Area’s got a new poet hero—young, like you were, and ever hopeful.
Kevin Killian

Punctuated by witty observational humour and imparted by an astute voice that is equal parts self-aware and sentimental, Alexandra Naughton’s Rapid Transit provides a staggering depiction of public space in motion. Through a careful mapping of rapid-fire reactions, Naughton navigates a series of dubious encounters with strangers that evoke powerful notes of discomfort, nostalgia, whimsy, and truly captures the spirit of the beautiful/despicable metropolitan commute.
Julie Mannell

There’s something about riding along at high speeds in a metal room with complete strangers that somehow manages to encompass what it is to exist in this stupid and wonderful universe. It’s not always easy to capture that meaning, that feeling, and truly understand it, but Rapid Transit manages to sit alongside it in silence for a while, and take some small pleasure in its uncomfortable company.
EVIL MTN, author of The Underground Library Of Found Poetry

Alexandra understands and states it so clearly: anyone who has ever been on public transit has been able to exist in a space where people think differently from them, where people could hate them, peacefully. She has a way of being able to capture the discomfort of having to spend several hours a year with other humans in transit out of necessity and not out of choice, and uses humor deftly to cut the discomfort with humanness, touching inexperience we can all relate to, like the look someone give us with both hands around their face looking into you as if they’re trying to take the soul out of your body, or gently pushing a bee out of your hair at a bus stop.
Jeannette Mary Gomes, writer

A reflection on both the personal loneliness of our shared public spaces and the democratizing force of public transit. Naughton considers the San Francisco Bay Area’s changing landscape of inequality by asking, who are left on the public buses and trains when an entire sector of the economy leaves? Anyone whom has ever taken a train or commuted by bus can find the humor in falling in love between stops or falling flat on one’s face at an unexpected jolt. These observations paint a beautiful if complicated landscape of Naughton’s home, a painting I wouldn’t mind living in.
Rachel Jasper, writer and urban planner

About the Author

© Rohan DaCosta

Alexandra Naughton

Alexandra Naughton runs Be About It Press and is the co-host of Bring A Blanket Reading Series in Philadelphia. She is the author of several books including a place a feeling something he said to you, Rapid Transit, and American Mary, among others.

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