Sunday, November 8, 2009
Everyday Poems for City Sidewalks Contest
Saint Paul’s Department of Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul sponsored the 2nd annual sidewalk poetry program and contest again this year. St. Paul residents were invited to enter the contest to have their poems permanently installed in city sidewalks. Poems had to be no longer than 300 characters including spaces. Poems could be inspiring, funny, meaningful, cynical, mundane... anything appropriate for the general public. Over 400 poems were submitted.
Sidewalk poetry’s genesis began with Marcus Young, Saint Paul’s artist in residence. Young conceived the idea in 2008 after learning about the public works department’s annual sidewalk replacement program. Because of age and deterioration, the city replaces about 10 miles of sidewalk each year.
“I like the unlikely pairing of poetry and sidewalk replacement,” Young said. “Sidewalks are clearly a necessity, yet creating beauty and mystery with public art is equally important. We must build well both the hard durable structures of our city and the soft spaces for our collective imagination. That we can do both at the same time is really fun.”
My poem, November, was one of the five poems chosen to be installed. I saw it for the first time today. Hope you enjoy it!
Autumn wind drags leaves from trees,
clogs streets in a dreary finale.
Bare branches crisscross heavy skies.
Icy rain spatters, ink-blots pavement.
I settle at my window, stare
into thick black flannel, search
the woolly lining of the night for winter.
As of 10/30/09, my poem has been installed
at the following addresses in St. Paul:
2189 E Mitchell
2179 E Upper Afton
2155 E Minnehaha
700 N Hazel