2020 Sidewalk Poetry
Poems about aging and youth, the love of a bookstore, about missing a lotus' bloom, morning, and driving etiquette are the winners of the City of Cambridge's sixth annual Sidewalk PoetryContest. The five winning poems will be imprinted into the fresh concrete of new sidewalks around the city.
Braian MacPherson and Caroleen Verly
Sarah Anne Stinnett
Learn more about the program at cambridgeartscouncil.org/poetry. There you can also find a guide map to the sidewalk poems already imprinted across the city.
Cambridge has been celebrating the first five years of the Cambridge Sidewalk PoetryProgram with daily poems on Cambridge Arts social media and two projects that have been postponed due to coronavirus that we look forward to reopening when it is safe:
• "TRA•VERSE—A Poetic Journey," an exhibition about the program, at Cambridge Arts' Gallery 344, 344 Broadway, Cambridge.
• Poetry on stairs of Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge.
All of these projects grew out of a collaboration with students in the Community Design Studio at Lesley Art + Design, led by designer and professor Rick Rawlins.
The five winners—plus five runners-up—were chosen from 91 entries contributed this spring by Cambridge residents. The authors of these 10 poems will be invited to read at the River Festival. Entries were reviewed by a selection committee composed of a past Cambridge Poets Populist, and representatives from Cambridge Public Works, Cambridge Public Library, and Cambridge Arts.
The Sidewalk Poetry Contest is a collaborative project of the Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library.
2020 Sidewalk Poetry Contest Winners and Runners Up
Bookstore, I love you.
Your best sellers, your remainders,
Your used books, your staff picks.
Sometimes I read standing inside,
Just for kicks.
Don’t leave, like Pangloss, Mandrake,
Starr, McIntyre & Moore.
Flocks of little word-birds
Flying out your door.
After the rain, a gray-haired woman
carefully navigates the sidewalk.
Inside her, a girl in red boots
splashes every puddle she sees
into arcs of sparkling prisms.
When the Lotus Bloomed
Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore
I was so distracted, tense, and busy
That I missed the lotus bloom.
Though preoccupied and hasty
I sensed something in the room—
Caught that subtle scent of longing,
That mute yearning to be still—
But I hadn’t yet an inkling
That the flower was my will.
One-Lane Two-Way Street
(AKA Ode to Howard Street)
Brian MacPherson and Caroleen Verly
Only one car fits down this street
With two permitted, two could meet
So one of the cars, it must defer
Pulling over toward the curb
Moving is only a minor detour
Faith in humanity, thus restored.
This Morning’s Reprieve
Sarah Anne Stinnett
sipping my coffee
take the rim
and kiss it
before the day goes on
haiku for a new season
when will it be time
for ancient angers to melt
like the snow in spring
High in the night sky,
the half moon, tilting slightly—
chalice without stem.
Ah, to sip what spills
from that luminous cup, could
we stretch ourselves up!
We’ve missed our turn,
as we’ve passed the corner,
and the sun dances around the spire.
But we keep walking and
arrive where we always do:
when orange kisses blue,
and the sky is dark, familiar.
Hidden in an evergreen,
bush birds brightly
sing their songs.
As I tiptoe near
they go pianissimo
in a call and response
On a gentle day in the midst of winter
Sun sprinkles stars of light
on the river's swirling stream.
this speck of time
and keeps me anchored here