Make Your Mark: 2013 Sidewalk Poetry Competition Announced

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Boot up your computers, open up your laptops, or grab paper and pencil.  For the third year running, Northfielders will have the opportunity to see their poems or those written by their friends and neighbors stamped into sidewalks around town. 

The 2013 competition will be held earlier in the year than in previous years in order that winning poems can be ready for installation as soon as new sidewalks begin to be poured beginning in April, which just happens to be Poetry Month.

Thanks to a generous $10,000 grant to the Arts and Culture Commission from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, all Northfield residents and students of any age enrolled in Northfield schools are invited to submit up to two short poems.  There is no charge for submission, though there are criteria to be followed. Up to 10 poems will be selected.  The following are criteria for submission.

  • Each person may submit up to two poems. Text and subject matter must be appropriate for the general public. Poems that are explicitly religious, political, graphically violent or overtly sexual will not be considered.
  • Each poem must fit within a maximum of 10 lines, with no more than 40 characters per line (including spaces and punctuation.) The maximum number of characters for each poem is 250 (including spaces and punctuation marks). Titles are optional; if titled, count the title and any blank lines within the text limitations outlined above.
  • Poems can be previously published or unpublished, as long as they are the original work of the entrant.
  • All entries are reviewed by a panel in a blind judging process.
  • All poems must be submitted in typewritten form on 8 1⁄2” by 11” paper, one poem per page. No poet’s name, email, or other identifying text can be on the page on which the poem appears.
  • Each entrant must also include a cover page with the poet’s name, contact information, and the first line(s) of each poem submitted.
  • Beginning January 15, 2013, send your entry to: Friends of the Northfield Public Library, 210 Washington Street, Northfield, MN, 55057, Attn: Sidewalk Poetry, or leave it at the circulation desk at the Library.The deadline for submission of poems is Saturday, February, 15 at 5 pm.  Winning poems will be announced later in February and will be installed in April to celebrate Poetry Month.

Poems stamped into sidewalks will not be identified by author, but authors will be identified on websites and in all news releases.

In 2011 Northfield’s Arts and Culture Commission introduced Sidewalk Poetry to Northfield, thanks to the support of the Streetscape Task Force who allotted $5000 and the Friends of the Library who provided additional funding to get it started.  Nine poems were chosen for installation in the downtown area.  In 2012 the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council funded the project with grant of $7,400, which resulted in ten more poems being installed.  Grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council are made possible by the voters of Minnesota thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Winning poems from 2011 and 2012 can be found at http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/2/2011-Winning-Poems.pdf and at http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/a/ACC-2012-_Winning-Sidewalk-Poems.pdf

If anyone would like to make a financial donation to the project, please contact the Friends of the Library, or Arts and Culture Commission members, Leslie Schultz (winonapoet@gmail.comor (507) 645-653); Philip Spensley (pspensley@earthlink.netor (507) 663-7141); or Bonnie Jean Flom (bjflom@gmail.comor (507) 645-6845).


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