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Press Release

March 18, 2021

Mayor Carter Announces 2021 Saint Paul Sidewalk Poetry Contest

Collaboration between City of Saint Paul, Public Art Saint Paul, and Saint Paul Almanac Invites Writers to Submit Poems to be Stamped into Sidewalks This Summer

Saint Paul, MN – Today, Mayor Melvin Carter announced Saint Paul’s Sidewalk Poetry Contest for 2021, a collaboration between the City and Public Art Saint Paul and new partner, Saint Paul Almanac. Starting March 22 and running through April 25, writers who live in Saint Paul can submit poems for the chance to have them stamped into city sidewalks this summer.

“Amid these challenging and uncertain times, sidewalk poetry embeds the power of art into our everyday spaces,“ said Mayor Carter. “I look forward to our continued collaboration with Public Art Saint Paul, Saint Paul Almanac and artists in our community to bring poetry into neighborhoods across our city.”

“Sidewalk Poems convey a love for our place and our neighbors with writers offering wisdom, humor, reflections, and experiences to anyone walking the sidewalks of St. Paul,” said Colleen Sheehy, Executive Director of Public Art Saint Paul. “Especially during the pandemic, our sidewalks became critical spaces for contemplation, fresh air, and distanced socializing.”

“Saint Paul Almanac is a literary arts organization that is proud to collaborate with Public Art Saint Paul again on this fantastic project,” said Pamela Fletcher Bush, CEO & Publisher of Saint Paul Almanac and Arcata Press. “We are glad to share our resources and networks to ensure a successful contest that reflects the stories of Saint Paul residents,” said Pamela R. Fletcher Bush, CEO & Publisher.

The 2021 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 sidewalks starting this summer. Submissions in four non-English languages will be accepted, including Dakota, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, reflecting the diversity of Saint Paul.

This year, two renowned local poets, Bao Phi and Sagirah Shadid, will lead a panel of jurors—poets Rubin Hardin, Marian Hassan, TouSaiko Lee, Teresa Ortiz, and Mark Tilsen. The panel will select up to eight winning poems, which will join the current 63-piece collection of Sidewalk Poetry in Saint Paul. Winners will be announced in early June. To submit a poem and to find more instructions, go to www.publicartstpaul.org/sidewalk-poetry-submission.

Sidewalk Poetry originated as a project of Public Art Saint Paul’s City Artist Marcus Young, and was originally called “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.” The current collection of poems has been stamped more than 1,100 times into sidewalks, with stamping done every summer where sidewalks need to be replaced. To see an interactive map of Sidewalk Poetry poems and locations throughout the City, visit www.stpaul.gov/sidewalkpoetrymap.

Sidewalk Poetry is supported by the City of Saint Paul, the McKnight Foundation, the Hardenbergh Foundation, the Boss Foundation, the John and Ruth Huss Fund, many individual donors, 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.



Public Art Saint Paul along with the City of Saint Paul are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Sidewalk Poetry Contest.

Eight winning poems were selected by a jury of professional writers from 633 poem submissions.

The winning poets:

Filsan Ibrahim
Diana Leaskas
Tanagidan To Win (Tara) Perron
Gabriela Spears-Rico
Artika Tyner
Dawn Wing
Chong Yang
Kyra Zimmerman

Congratulations to them! Not only do the poets get their poems stamped into Saint Paul sidewalks across the city, but they also receive a $100 award and will be able to perform their pieces at various cultural events this year.

The subjects of their poems vary from well wishes to future grandchildren to assertions of identity as a Rondo neighborhood resident to the essential role of poetry in Latino traditions. There are poems in Somali, Spanish, Dakota, and Hmong among the winning poems. In 2019, the poetry contest was opened to submissions of poems new languages besides English to reflect the different cultures of Saint Paul and to add new voices to our public art and sidewalks.

The jurors gave five honorable mentions to the following poets: Erin Kavanuagh; John Maher, Jacklynn Nowaczewski, Shelley Steingraeber, and Boonmee Yang.

We thank the renowned poets, Bao Phi and Sagirah Shadid, who served as curators for the 2021 contest and served as jurors along with Marian Hassan, Teresa Ortiz, and Mark Tilsen.