Saint Paul Sidewalk Poetry
The City of Saint Paul, in partnership with Public Art Saint Paul, hosted the first Sidewalk Poetry Contest in 2008. Writers who live in Saint Paul were able to submit poems for the chance to have them stamped into city residential sidewalks.
The Sidewalk Poetry Contest is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, funded through legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Legacy Fund.
Sidewalk Poetry began as a way to create artistic expression on new sidewalk panels as part of the sidewalk replacement and maintenance program. The project was initially called "Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk." Today, over 73 poems (stamped over 1,200 times) have been embossed into sidewalks across the city.
2023 Sidewalk Poetry Contest
On May 26, Mayor Carter announced the winners of the Saint Paul Sidewalk Poetry Contest for 2023, a collaboration between the city, Public Art Saint Paul (PASP), and Saint Paul Almanac. The contest takes on special significance this year as it is the 15th anniversary of the Sidewalk Poetry Program, which is why 15 poems - three times the usual amount - were selected to be stamped into city sidewalks this summer.
“Sidewalk poetry is one way that our community showcases its talent and deep commitment to the arts and culture across our city,” said Mayor Carter. “I am excited to be stamping a record 15 poems that reflect the rich diversity of our city into our sidewalks.”
This year, entries were judged by a panel of local artists, headlined by poet and poetry slam performer Kevin Yang and writer and educator Marian Hassan. Joining them on the panel was Thressa Isobel, Michael Kleber-Diggs, Fong Lee, Aesha Mohamed, Tanagidan Too Win (Tara Perron).
“We are so happy to be able to award these talented writers the distinction of being a Sidewalk Poetry winner,” said PASP Executive Director Colleen Sheehy. “This year, entries into the Sidewalk Poetry Contest were asked to write to the Wakpa Triennial theme, ’Network of Mutuality,’ a phrase that comes from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’ The winning poems approached the theme from many perspectives and with eloquence and imagery that will stir people’s minds, hearts, and spirits.”
The winning poems will be stamped onto Saint Paul sidewalks beginning this summer, with PASP working with the city’s Department of Public Works.
In addition to sidewalk poetry, this summer marks the inaugural Wakpa Triennial Art Festival organized by PASP. The Wakpa Triennial Art Festival is a new art event for the Twin Cities, scheduled for June 24 to September 16. More information can be found on the PASP website at www.publicartstpaul.org/wakpa.
Submissions in four non-English languages were accepted this year: Dakota, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, reflecting the diversity of Saint Paul.
Winners of the 2023 Sidewalk Poetry Contest are:
- Bjorn Arneson
- Katie Bendickson (Wookiye win)
- Murph Dawkins
- Elizabeth Goihl
- Mindy Johnson
- Amy Klimoski
- Maggie Lorenz
- Pamela Schmid
- Mary Schulz
- Anne Sexton
- Mary Turck
- Grace Xiong
- Fardousa Yossuf
- Two anonymous poets
For more information, visit Public Art Saint Paul at http://publicartstpaul.org/sidewalk-poetry/.