Make Your Mark - Special Kick-Off for 4th Annual Sidewalk Poetry Competition

Sidewalk Poem.jpg

From Northfield Arts and Culture Commission Chair Philip Spensley, comes this announcement:

Time to get those images that inspire you into words.  For the fourth 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 2014 competition kicks off Saturday, February 1, at 10 a.m. in the Just Food's Community Meeting Room with the first public screening of Paul Krause's new documentary "Northfield's Sidewalk Poetry" (see the bottom of this post for a short preview).  The public is invited to attend and to bring a favorite poem to share.  The 2014 competition runs throughout February, with the final date to submit poems either mailed or delivered by 5:30 pm on February 28.

Winning poems will be announced sometime later in March.  Installation will begin as soon as new sidewalks begin to be poured, hopefully 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, as well as from further support from the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Library, the Northfield Area Foundation, and individual donations from Northfield citizens, 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.  Guidelines, below, may also be found online at  Up to 10 poems will be selected. 

• Text and subject matter of the poems must be appropriate for the general public. Poems that are explicitly religious, political, graphically violent or overtly sexual will not be considered.

• Each poem should contain no more than 240 characters, including spaces and punctuation.   Poems may be composed in either a vertical format (up to 11 lines; no line having more than 26 characters), or a horizontal format (up to 8 lines; no line having more than 36 characters).  If a title is included it will count as 2 lines (title line plus a space between the title and the poem).

• Poems can be previously published or unpublished, as long as they are the original work of the entrant.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 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, home address, phone number and email address, and the first line(s) of each poem submitted.

• Poets retain full copyright of their poems.  By entering the contest poets agree that the ACC and the City of Northfield may install the poem as many times as they wish, and also use the poems in whole or in part for promotional, documentary, and/or celebratory purposes.

• Turn in entries at the circulation desk at the Library, downtown, or mail to:

Friends of the Northfield Public Library, 210 Washington Street, Northfield, MN, 55057.  Put "Attn: Sidewalk Poetry" on your envelope.

For reference, winning poems from 2011, 2012, and 2013 can be found at

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.