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Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk

Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk is an ongoing, systems-based work of art and the vanguard expression of the pioneering idea of “City Art.” The work re-imagines Saint Paul’s annual sidewalk maintenance program as an ongoing publishing entity for a city-sized book of poetry.

Piggybacking onto this unassuming yet essential city service—a $1 million program repairing 10 miles of sidewalk each year—the sidewalk poetry program reaches all corners of the city.

Since 2008, we have installed more than 900 poems from a growing collection of 46, written by St. Paul residents. Public Art Saint Paul hosts an annual citywide poetry contest to build the collection. Saint Paul’s Poet Laureate Carol Connolly is among the distinguished contest panelists. The work aspires to pave all of St. Paul’s streets with poetry and to claim poetry as an essential city service. As of 2014, approximately 17 percent of city land is within a two-minute walk of a poem created by this ongoing work of art.

About the Artist

Marcus Young

Marcus Young 楊墨 (b.1970, Hong Kong) is a behavioral and social practice artist making work for the concert stage, museums, and the public realm. His work expands the repertoire of human behavior and the expressivity of city systems. Since 2006, as City Artist, Marcus has redefined the artist working within city government. His project Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk transformed the city’s sidewalk maintenance program into a publishing entity for poetry. The program has so far created 751 installations, resulting in 17% of City land being within a two-minute walk of a poem created by this single work of art. Interested in DIY spirituality, he created Don’t You Feel It Too?—a participatory street dance practice of public protest and inner-life liberation. He has led more than 150 sessions of this dance form for art festivals, schools and colleges, youth experiencing homelessness, professional dance groups, and the general public. Recent museum work includes With Nothing to Give, I Give Myself—living 10 days around-the-clock at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to foster the understanding that people are the great overlooked art. Marcus has a BA in music from Carleton College and an MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota. He is ongoing Collaborating Director with Ananya Dance Theater, and a recipient of awards from the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Franklin Furnace, and New York Drama League.



 The Contest is currently Closed

Thank you for your Poetry!


For questions, please contact Aaron Dysart at 651-266-8815 or aaron.dysart@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

Poems & Poets

Download a PDF of the poetry collection here.

2008 Poets
Eleanor Arnason
Sasha Aslanian
Caley J. Conney
Sean Fleming
Eileen O’Toole
Madeline Schuster
Ryan Ross
Margaret Hasse
Anna Renkin
Naomi Cohn
Terri Ristow
Esme Evans
Georgia Greeley
Zoe Jameson
Anne Piper
Carlee Tressel
Diego Vazquez, Jr.
KateLynn Hibbard
Patricia Kirkpatrick
Eyang Wu

2009 Poets
Anna Everett Beek
Carol Connolly
Kurt Schultz
Marianne McNamara
Mary Davini
Pam Haas

2010 Poets
Pat Owen
Dallas Crow
Rachel Kowarski
Kevin Walker
Jeri Reilly

2011 Poets
Michael E. Murphy
Michael Russelle
Sara Clark
Lillian Rupp
Louis DiSanto

2012 Poets
Alma Palahniuk
Emily Gurnon
James Lachowsky
Karen Trudeau
Donna Damalfi

2013 Poets
Susan Downing
Charles Matson Lume
Susan Olsson
Paige Riehl
Marcy Steinberg

Partners & Funders

Public Art Saint Paul
Saint Paul Public Works
Carol Connolly, Saint Paul Poet Laureate

City of Saint Paul’s Public Art Ordinance The Saint Paul Foundation
F. R. Bigelow Foundation
Mardag Foundation
McKnight Foundation
ArtPlace America
Knight Foundation
The John and Ruth Huss Fund of The Saint Paul
Foundation Readings by Writers
The voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.