Imprint Your Words on Cambridge

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Third Annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest Accepting Submissions Through March 15

  • chris thibault
  • susan blanker
  • ty muto
  • elissa warner
  • sidewalk poetry collage
sidewalk poetry installation collage

Jazz Riff
I want to write a poem
the way a jazz man
composes on his feet
sways in rhythm
taps a syncopated beat
I want to howl and growl
to a bottleneck slide
pulse with rage and heat
rap a wild wind run
blast injustice to the gutter

-- Molly Lynn Watt, 2016 Sidewalk Poetry Contest Winner

"I’m excited to have won a sidewalk square for my poem Jazz Riff. I am a witness poet writing poems for anyone to enjoy and learn from, so a sidewalk is a marvelous place to have a poem installed, a place where people travel over in the course of everyday life, running for a class, a bus, pushing babies, leading dogs, skate-boarding, jumping rope, biking, chalk painting, a poem in the midst of the hustle bustle of life where poetry thrives!" says Watt.

Submissions for the Third Annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest are now open to Cambridge residents of any age through March 15. In previous years, hundreds of poems have been submitted by residents from ages 4 to 95. The winners will have their poem imprinted in a city sidewalk in 2017.

According to Jason Weeks, Executive Director of the Camrbridge Arts Council, "The Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Program is a terrific celebration of poetry, literary arts, and the boundless creativity of our resident poets. In the first year alone, we had over 300 submissions of original work from residents 4-years to 95-years of age and reflective of myriad life experiences! Selected winners have their work stamped into sidewalks throughout the city during the course of routine sidewalk repairs and their poetry becomes a physical part of the experience of Cambridge."

Poems will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of representatives from Cambridge Public Works, Cambridge Public Library, and Cambridge Arts, as well as a former Poet Populist and a Cambridge high school student. Winning poets and runners up will be invited to read at the Poetry Tent at the 38th Cambridge Arts River Festival, June 3, 2017. The Sidewalk Poetry Program is a collaborative project of the Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library.

The idea for the annual poetry contest was suggested to the City several by a resident who had read about similar programs in other cities, including St. Paul, Minnesota.

"In addition to supporting our local poets and presenting their work to broader audiences, the Sidewalk Poetry Program creatively transforms a routine municipal process into a celebration of arts, poetry and access positively engaging our resident populations and visitors to more fully enjoy and reflect on their experience of being in Cambridge"  adds Weeks.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. For more information, including a video about the program, and to submit a poem, please visit www.cambridgema.gov/sidewalkpoetry