SAINT PAUL— Today, 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.
The submissions featured from this year’s contest encompass the diversity of Saint Paul, with poems in English, Hmong, Somali, and Dakota. Listed below are the 15 Sidewalk Poetry Contest Winners:
- Bjorn Arneson
- Katie Bendickson (Wóokiye wiŋ)
- 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
About the Sidewalk Poetry Contest
Sidewalk Poetry began as a way to create artistic expression out of a yearly city function – sidewalk maintenance. Sidewalk Poetry was created in 2008 through a partnership with Public Art Saint and former City Artist Marcus Young. The project was initially called “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.” Since its inception, 73 distinct poems – stamped over 1,200 times – have been embossed into sidewalks across the city. If you would like to see where there is Sidewalk Poetry near you, visit www.stpaul.gov/sidewalkpoetrymap.
The 2023 Sidewalk Poetry Contest is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board grant thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Legacy Fund.