Poetry Programs

Sidewalk Poetry by Molly Lynn Watt on Prospect Street, Cambridge.

The goal of the Cambridge Arts Poetry Programs is to create opportunities for the Cambridge community to engage with and promote poetry from diverse backgrounds and styles.

Announcing Winners of 2019 Sidewalk Poetry Contest

New Poems To Be Imprinted In Cambridge Sidewalks

The City of Cambridge has chosen the winners of the fifth annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest. These five poems will be imprinted into the fresh concrete of new sidewalks around the city beginning in fall 2019. The winning poems speak about a spring thaw, a meeting with a nightingale, failing to care for the earth, protecting one's younger self, and how we ignore facts about climate change (a theme encouraged in this year's contest).

Emily H. Axelrod
Elijah Seymour Frydman
David Morin
Henry Shull
Jeffrey Walker

Leslie Borden
Evan Frankel
Robin Goodfellow (Puck) Malamud
Susan Twarog
Mary Sullivan Walsh

Read the full text of their poems at cambridgema.gov/arts/Programs/poetryprograms/sidewalkpoetry/2019sidewalkpoetry.

The five winners—plus five runners-up—were chosen in March from 96 entries contributed this spring by Cambridge residents, ranging in age from 6 to 86, and hailing from all the neighborhoods of the community. All 10 poets have been invited to read at the Poetry Tent at the 40th annual Cambridge Arts River Festival on June 1, 2019.

Entries were reviewed by a selection committee composed of Cambridge poets, a student from the MassLEAP youth poetry program, 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. 

A scrim featuring text from Cambridge Arts' Sidewalk Poetry program wraps a construction site around Lafayette Square and Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, April 2019.

To celebrate five years of Sidewalk Poetry, Cambridge Arts worked with designer Rick Rawlins and his Community Design students at Lesley Art and Design to print entries from each year across a giant scrim that wraps a construction site around Lafayette Square and Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square. It was installed in April 2019 and is expected to be on view through fall 2019.

Sidewalk Poetry map.

Find Sidewalk Poetry with our Online Map

Use one online map to find Sidewalk Poetry all over Cambridge.

In 2015 the City of Cambridge launched the first annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest and has continued yearly since. Every March, residents of any age are invited to submit poetry for the chance to get their words stamped in concrete as part of the sidewalk repair program. The poetry submissions must be a maximum of 10 lines, 40 characters per line including spaces, and 250 characters overall including spaces and punctuation. Each year an average of 150 poems are submitted from people ages 3 to 95. Five winners are selected each year and stamped throughout City. Additionally, every year the winning poets are invited to read at the Poetry Tent at the annual Cambridge Arts River Festival. Visit our Sidewalk Poetry webpage to learn more about the program and how to apply.