The Winona Poetry Walk

The Winona Fine Arts Commission, with the support of the City Staff and Council is launching a public art project The Winona Poetry Walk, consisting of original poetry stamped into sidewalks beginning this Spring, starting in downtown Winona. The Poetry Walk will officially open sometime late summer of 2020. Besides the original placement downtown, in the future, Winona residents would be asked if they would like a poem stamped in their sidewalk when it is slated for replacement. The homeowner will be responsible to coordinate with the designated city contractor (or the contractor of their choice) to put the poetry stamp into their sidewalk. There would be no cost to the homeowner to have a poem stamped into their sidewalk. The stamps will be stored at city owned location, and each year residents will be able to choose from the selection of stamps for their sidewalk replacement project.

Poetry Walk Submission

To make this happen, the FAC is calling for submissions of original short poems (or parts of poems), ten of whom will be selected for this the inaugural year to be placed as new sidewalks replace those in need of repair. The Winona Poetry Walk will be an ongoing program, with a map made, and brochures available so that residents and visitors can share these creative works with each other.

The submission dates are now through Jan. 31st, with decisions to be made in February, and the winning poems will then be made into stamps and announced to the public in April, during a Poetry Month celebration. The concrete sidewalk stamping will begin in Spring and will be completed for a celebration and ribbon cutting sometime in late Summer or early Fall.

Each person may submit up to two poems in any language. If not English, the language must be stated with translation. If a non-English poem is selected, the English translation may not be published with the original poem. The translation will be verified by at least one other person who speaks the language to assure accuracy.

  • The text subject must be appropriate for the general public. Poems that are explicitly religious, political, graphically violent or overtly sexual will not be considered.
  • Poems may be composed in either a vertical format (up to 11 lines; no line having more than 26 characters including spaces and punctuation), or horizontal format (up to 8 lines; no line having more than 36 characters including spaces and punctuation). If a title is included, it will count as two lines (title line plus a line space between the title and the poem). These size restrictions are strictly enforced.
  • Poets retain full copyright of their poems. Entering the contest poets agree that the ACC and the City of Winona may freely use and/or print the poems as many times as they wish, and also use the poems in whole or in part of promotional, documentary, and/or celebratory purposes.
  • Poems can be previously published or unpublished, as long as they are original work of the entrant.
  • A panel of judges, including poets and writers, will carry out a blind judging process. In that panel members will be given no identifying information regarding the poets.
  • Poems can be previously published or unpublished, as long as they are original work of the entrant.

The selections will be judged by a panel of volunteers with expertise in the Arts and Poetry including: Lezlea Dahlke, Director of the Winona Public Library; Alison Quam, writer; research librarian at WSU and board member of WAPS; Mai’a Williams, poet; Ken McCullough, poet and most recent Winona Poet Laureate; Marcia Ratliff, poet and City of Winona Children Services Librarian; and Roger Boulay and Rebecca Sims, Fine Arts Commissioners.

All those wishing to submit must be City of Winona residents or current full time students and all submissions may be made online.

The City of Winona is a partner of the River Arts Alliance.

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