NEWSBRIEF: St. Paul sidewalk poetry contest

Mayor Melvin Carter announced St. Paul’s Sidewalk Poetry Contest for 2019, a collaboration between the city and Public Art Saint Paul. Starting March 15 and running through April 15, writers who live in St. Paul can submit poems for the chance to have them stamped into city residential sidewalks starting this summer.

“Sidewalk poetry embeds art and inspiration in our everyday spaces across St. Paul,” said Carter. “I look forward to our continued partnership with Public Art Saint Paul and the opportunity for artists in our community to share their work with all of us.”

“I love that this public art project brings moments of surprise, humor, and contemplation to people out on a stroll, going to school, or taking a run,” said Colleen Sheehy, executive director of Public Art Saint Paul. “Sidewalk Poetry is beloved by people who live in and visit St. Paul, and has been a model for other cities and towns around the country. St. Paul is definitely a leader in making our sidewalks into the pages of a citywide book.”

The 2019 Sidewalk Poetry Contest will accept submissions from new, emerging or professional writers of any age. Winning writers will receive a $100 prize and will have their poems stamped into city residential sidewalks starting this summer. For the first time since the contest started in 2008, submissions in four non-English languages will be accepted, including Dakota, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, reflecting the diversity of St. Paul. Writers who submit in one of these languages will be asked to include its English translation also. 

This year, local poets Tish Jones and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay will lead a panel with fellow poets Nimo Farah, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, Kevin Yang, Lisa Yankton, and St. Paul’s Youth Poet Laureate Chavah Gabrielle. The panel will select up to eight winning poems, which will join the current 54-piece Sidewalk Poetry collection in St. Paul. For more information and instructions, go to

Sidewalk Poetry originated as a project of Public Art Saint Paul City Artist Marcus Young, and was originally called “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalks.” The current collection of poems has been stamped more than 1,000 times into residential sidewalks every summer where sidewalks need to be replaced. To see an interactive map of Sidewalk Poetry poems and locations throughout the city, go to  

Sidewalk Poetry is supported by the City of St. Paul, the McKnight Foundation, the Hardenbergh Foundation, the Boss Foundation, the John and Ruth Huss Fund, and the Minnesota State Arts Board through a legislative appropriation and from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, made possible by the voters of Minnesota.

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