2022 Sidewalk Poetry
New poetry will be coming to Cambridge neighborhoods as five winning poems will be imprinted in city sidewalks as part of the City of Cambridge’s 2022 Sidewalk Poetry Contest. The chosen poems confront anti-immigrant bigotry, mull the surprises of aging, celebrate writers’ voices and creativity, observe life along our sidewalks, and call for an open-hearted tenderness that includes “the man living in the tent / On the concrete between the buildings.”
Launched in 2015, Sidewalk Poetry invites Cambridge residents of all ages to submit their poetry for a chance to get their words stamped in concrete as part of the City’s sidewalk repair program. At the core of the Sidewalk Poetry program is access and opportunity—providing opportunities for more people to freely experience poetry and more writers to share their work. Find poems throughout the city via our Sidewalk Poetry Map
. The Sidewalk Poetry Contest is a collaborative project of the Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library.
2022 Sidewalk Poetry Contest Winners and Runners-Up
An Ordinary Day
It happened on a corner
I never imagined −
stepping down off the curb
my grandson untangled our fingers
and locked his arm
full round mine,
lest I fall.
To the man living in the tent
On the concrete between the buildings:
I am glad you are here.
May you find happiness inside.
To the people around him:
May we surround the tent with love.
Be his warmth in the winter.
We must not forget
He is us, and we are him.
Here walks a student
who just aced a test
Here stops a runner
who needed some rest
Here stands a mother awaiting a bus
holding a baby who’s starting to fuss
Here skip two sisters
with chalk in their hands
laughing at jokes
only they understand
Where were you born?
I was born to be a woman.
I was born to live in war.
I was born to be a war survivor.
I was born to become a refugee.
I was born to live as an immigrant in USA.
I was born to live in discrimination.
I was born to be a trauma survivor.
I was born to be an American Citizen.
I was born to live in a women’s shelter.
I was born to be a strong woman.
Are you still asking where I was born?
If I had just one song,
just one song to sing in life,
I’d sing it all the time,
with all of my heart
But, since I’ve more than one,
more than one song to sing,
my heart has to grow
Many times I’ve tried to write −
to undertake with heart
Fingers tapping keyboard as mind
casts for words − words most precise
to tell that kind
of love, that kind
of loss. To bring
it forth in all its worth
− then backspacing.
Rise and Reach.
Behold and Beseech.
Energize and Entreat.
Resolve and Repeat.
I am the solace in which you seek,
the elixir to heal time’s pain,
the glove that shields
the hand to pick the rose,
and the crutch that aids the lame.
I am the bandage on your wound,
the pill to ease your ailing heart,
The drive, the strength, the courage,
when all things fall apart.
I'm sitting in the sprinkler.
My clothes are getting wrinklier.
My hair is getting kinklier.
But oh, it feels so good!
A wretched summer to forget,
virus, fire, heat and yet…
My memories are cool and wet
and oh, it felt so good
to be sitting in that sprinkler!
My father took me on his shoulders
through back streets to Harvard Square
like gold that holds together broken
pottery- he freed me from the gravity
of moments I would rather not remember
the day he was gone I knew he had died
but even at five years old
I knew his art let me breathe
and be tall enough to see