Five Cambridge poets will see their work imprinted on the sidewalk this fall

The poems tackle topics including climate change, spring, and an encounter with a nightingale.

Crew of Fred DeRoma & Son, contractors with the City of Cambridge, applying the Cambridge Poetry Program test stamp in freshly poured concrete on the sidewalk in front of Cambridge Community Center on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.
Crew of Fred DeRoma & Son, contractors with the City of Cambridge, applying the Cambridge Poetry Program test stamp in freshly poured concrete on the sidewalk in front of Cambridge Community Center on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. –City of Cambridge

On Tuesday, Cambridge continued its tradition of giving poetry a stamp of permanence.

That is, the city announced the winners of its Sidewalk Poetry Contest, which asks residents of all ages to submit a short poem that may be imprinted in concrete as part of a sidewalk repair program. The work of this year’s wordsmiths will begin popping up on streets this fall.

The poems from the winning bunch — Emily H. Axelrod, Elijah Seymour Frydman, David Morin, Henry Shull, and Jeffrey Walker — were chosen from 96 submissions, according to the Cambridge Arts Council. Entrants hailed from all Cambridge neighborhoods and ranged in age from six to 86 years old. Winning verses were selected by a committee comprised of local poets, a student from youth poetry program MassLEAP, former Cambridge Poets Populist, and representatives from Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge Public Library, and Cambridge Public Works.

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According to the council, the selected poems discuss “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).” The poems by the five winners, as well as five runner-ups, are available to read on the council’s website.

Established in 2015, the competition is a collaborative project between the Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge Public Library, and the Cambridge Department of Public Works. This year’s winners and runner-ups will also get the opportunity to read their work at the Poetry Tent during the Cambridge Arts River Festival on June 1.

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