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Another poetry contest — from St. Paul’s public works department

With all due respect to my old colleague Al Sicherman, there’s another poetry game in town.

It’s the St. Paul Public Works Poetry Contest. Winners get a $150 prize (but alas, no MinnPost T-shirt). There is a $3 entry fee, something Uncle Al would never endorse. But then, he doesn’t come up with the big-bucks prizes, either.

The rules, as delineated at

• Open to all St. Paul residents — professional or amateur writers of any age.

• Each resident may submit up to three poems.

• Poems should be short and create an easy-to-read sidewalk experience, in general no longer than 500 characters. Poems must be text only (no images) and be in English.

• Entries must be original work by the entrant, previously published or new work.

• Up to 20 poems will be selected. Each winning poet will receive a $150 prize, as well as publication in a printed book, on a project website, and in city sidewalks.

• Selected poems will be permanently installed in many sites throughout the city over the course of several years. Attributing authorship of poems will be made in the printed book and on the project website but not in the sidewalk.

• Each entry must contain one to three poems typed and formatted on a single sheet of paper. Each entry must also include a $3 entry fee (payable to Public Art St. Paul) and the following information on a separate sheet of paper: Writer’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and title or first line of each poem.

• Postmark deadline for submissions is April 25. Winners will be announced on the Public Works website May 12.

How about these?
Winning poems will be written on city sidewalks. Sort of like the bricks with names and legends on the sidewalks of Harriet Island, I suspect. So they prefer short. And they don’t have to be about sidewalks, just suitable for sidewalk reading.

But if they were about sidewalks, I’d submit:

Be careful where you step, on the sidewalk just ahead
Or you’ll trip and fall, of that I’m sure.
With the maintenance budget so deeply in the red
We’re left with a crumbling infrastructure.


In most neighborhoods, backyard’s in back
The logic to that, seems completely on track.
So why is the sidewalk usually spied
In the front of the house, and not on the side?
Entries should go to:
Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk
Department of Public Works                               
1500 City Hall Annex
25 West 4th Street
St. Paul, MN 55102                 
(Make $3 check payable to Public Art St. Paul)

Any questions (except about my poems), contact Dave Hunt at, 651-266-6134.

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