Sidewalk Poetry is an ongoing, systems-based work of art and the vanguard expression of the pioneering idea of “City Art.” This project re-imagines Saint Paul’s annual sidewalk maintenance program as an ongoing publishing entity for a city-sized book of poetry. Sidewalk Poetry allows city residents to claim the sidewalks as their book pages by creating moments of contemplation and reflection through these printed poems.
In collaboration with the City of St. Paul, Public Art Saint Paul hosts a 2021 Sidewalk Poetry Contest this spring to offer residents a new opportunity to be published poets and add to our collection. Foster a poetic frame of mind! Submissions will be accepted March 22 – April 25, 2021. (Read below for details of how to submit your work.)
Two highly accomplished poets—Bao Phi and Sagirah Shahid—are curators of the 2021 Poetry Contest. They will serve as ambassadors, getting the word out far and wide about this opportunity for St. Paul residents only. They also will serve as jurors of the submitted poems and have enlisted four other esteemed poets to serve on the jury: Rubin Hardin, Tou Saik Lee, Mark Tissen, Marian Hassan.
In continuation of our 2019 program, we will accept poems in several languages: Dakota, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, and English. The poetry on our streets will honor and recognize the remarkable cultures that make our City home and that make our City strong. With this as a beginning, other languages may be added in years to come.
Sidewalk Poetry brilliantly piggybacks onto an unassuming yet essential City service—a $1 million program in our City’s Public Works Department that repairs 10 miles of sidewalk each year. Using this system, Sidewalk Poetry is able to reach all corners of the City. Today, everyone in St. Paul lives within a 10-minute walk of a Sidewalk Poem.
Since 2008, we have stamped more than 1,000 poems from a collection that now includes 63 individual pieces, all written by St. Paul residents. Sidewalk Poetry aspires to pave all of St. Paul’s sidewalks with poetry and to claim poetry as an essential city service.
We are excited to expand our collection and install more public art in the Twin Cities. We ask you, our community, to join us in this project to democratize public art. You can participate by submitting a poem (instructions below). Or, consider making a donation to support this project.
This art project was originated by Public Art Saint Paul City Artist Marcus Young in 2008, and started under the name “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalks.”
2021 Sidewalk Poetry Contest is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Sidewalk Poetry is also supported by by the McKnight, Hardenbergh, and Boss Foundations, the John and Ruth Huss Fund. Thank you as well to our generous donors who contributed to our ARTopia Fund-A-Need campaign for Sidewalk Poetry.
SUBMIT T0 2021 SIDEWALK POETRY CONTEST
SUBMISSIONS OPEN FROM MARCH 22 TO APRIL 25.
- Anyone who is a resident of Saint Paul is eligible to submit poems.
- You do not need to be a professional writer to submit a poem
- Poems should be short, up to 300 characters, including spaces.
- A writer can submit up to 2 poems.
- We welcome poems written in Dakota, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, reflecting the diversity of our city. On the submission form, writers who submit in one of these languages should include its English translation too.
- Subject Matter: Writers should consider that these poems will appear in residential neighborhoods. People of all ages and backgrounds will stroll across and read these poems. These poems have the potential to create a moment of contemplation, spark insight, alter someone’s mood, bring smiles to their faces, evoke empathy, or perhaps change someone’s understanding of a experience or subject.
- To submit, please fill out thisform.
- Each winning poet will receive a $100 award.
- Winners will be announced in early June.
- Jurors will select up to 8 poems to join the collection.
- Poems will be stamped into sidewalks starting in summer 2021 and continuing into future years.
- A public reading will be arranged with the 2021 winning poets.
WANT TO FIND CURRENT LOCATIONS OF SIDEWALK POETRY?
Click this link to explore the City of Saint Paul’s GIS data and live map.