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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 700 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.



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
Janet Coleman, Contest Administrator
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.

2015 Poetry Contest




•You must be a resident of Saint Paul to enter. All residents—young or old, professional writers or amateur— are eligible. Past winners are not eligible. Past honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter again.

•Submit up to two poems. Text and subject matter must be appropriate for the general public.  Poems must be in English.

•Poems cannot exceed 10 lines, 44 characters per line including spaces, and an overall total of 250 characters including spaces.

•Poems must be original work by the entrant and can be previously published or unpublished.

•All entries are reviewed by a panel in a blind selection process.

•Up to five selected poets will receive a $100 prize and installation of their poems in city sidewalks. Poets’ names will be credited on the project website, not in the sidewalk. Some selected poems may receive editing suggestions from the panel.

•Deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15 at midnight.

•Winners will be announced on November 17th at Readings by Writers at the University Club on Summit Avenue, and on November 18th at www.stpaul.gov/poetry

•Entries are accepted online only. A $3 entry fee is required at the end of this submission process.

•If submitting on behalf of a school group, please review the online submission form well in advance for additional instructions. Entry fees are waived for school groups.




For questions, please contact Dave Hunt at 651-266-6134 or dave.hunt@ci.stpaul.mn.us. Assistance by phone is available only until 4pm on October 16th.


2015 Saint Paul
Sidewalk Poetry Contest

September 14-October 16


We encourage school groups to participate by waiving the contest entry fee. To assist the selection process, we ask that the school group representative (teacher, parent, counselor, etc.) follow the general contest guidelines, as well as the submission process outlined below.

Hold a poetry competition for your school group. This can be for a classroom or school-wide.

Use your own selection process and select two (2) poems per classroom/group to submit. If you wish, offer your own prizes!

Complete the submission form. You will be asked to verify that the student has a Saint Paul address and that you are able to provide parent/guardian information should the student be selected as one of the winners.

If one of your students is selected, you may be asked to serve as a liaison between the student, the student’s legal guardian, and Public Art Saint Paul.


For questions about the School submission process, please contact Public Art Saint Paul Education Director Mary Johnson at 651.290.0921 or mary@publicartstpaul.org