It’s National Poetry month so literature lovers everywhere are encouraging you to read more poems. Lake Oswego’s Old Town Neighborhood Association is taking that advice one step further and inviting you to write a poem that residents can walk all over as part of their Sidewalk Poetry project.
Old Town Neighborhood Association Chair, Craig Stephens, ran across the idea when he was researching ways to address two issues: improving some of the neighborhood’s sidewalks and incorporating poetry into the area’s landscape. The City of Lake Oswego inadvertently helped with the first concern by pouring some new panels as part of the water pipe project. Then Stephens read about a city near Minneapolis called Richland that pairs its ongoing sidewalk rehabilitation project with a poetry contest to cast poems into the new panels each year. He submitted an application for a Neighborhood Enhancement Program Grant from the city and the Sidewalk Poetry project was declared a winner.
Three poems will be selected (one in the youth category) and entrants must be Lake Oswego residents and submit by the April 15 deadline. A complete list of guidelines is available here. They’ll be located on Durham Street at the cross streets of Leonard, Church and Wilbur as this is along the path most groups, visitors and residents follow when taking a historic tour and following markers.
Stephens hopes the poetry project will catch on.
It already has. In cities across the U.S. From Cambridge, Massachusetts to Santa Clarita, California, residents are submitting poems you can read right under your feet. Artist Marcus Young who inspired St. Paul Minnesota’s annual sidewalk poetry contest attributed the appeal of the contest to our “natural desire to stick our fingers in wet concrete.”
And there are variations. Boston is doing something Lake Oswego might consider—a “Raining Poetry” project that uses biodegradable water-repellent spray and stencils to publish poems in Boston’s sidewalks that passers-by can only see when it rains. Fans explain how it “brightens up a rainy day.” Sounds like something a lot of cities in Oregon could benefit from.
I may not be poetic but I can sing the praises of moving to Lake Oswego. If you’re thinking about it, give me a call at 503.939.9801 or check out my website. I’d love to help you move in, move out or move on.