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.

Anne Dane
Laura Deford
Peter Levine
Braian MacPherson and Caroleen Verly
Sarah Anne Stinnett

Charles Coe
Lisa DeSiro
Elizabeth Flood
Marjorie Jacobs
Madeline LaFarge

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


Anne Dane

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,

Schoenhof’s, Wordsworth,

Starr, McIntyre & Moore.

Flocks of little word-birds

Flying out your door.

Double Walker
Laura Deford

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
Peter Levine
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

                   as I

                     take the rim

                    and kiss it


              before the day goes on

           and on

    without you


Runners Up

haiku for a new season
Charles Coe

when will it be time

for ancient angers to melt

like the snow in spring

Lisa DeSiro

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!

Elizabeth Flood

We’ve missed our turn,

you say,

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.

Bush Birds
Marjorie Jacobs

Hidden in an evergreen,

branches shivering,

huddled together

bush birds brightly

sing their songs.

As I tiptoe near

they go pianissimo

in a call and response

heralding spring.

Water's Edge
Madeline LaFarge

On a gentle day in the midst of winter

Sun sprinkles stars of light

on the river's swirling stream.

Calmness surrounds

this speck of time

and keeps me anchored here