Sidewalk Poetry Program

I see you from the heavens 
And I ask you not to weep 
I know you wish to wake me 
From my never ending sleep 
Bu I am more alive than ever 
Tell, me do you see? 
I am flying with the eagles 
I am dancing through the trees
Poem by Maria Thomson for Appleton’s sidewalk poetry project. Image courtesy of Appleton Department of Public Works

Poems are stamped into sidewalk squares throughout Appleton, Wisconsin. Any resident are eligible to submit poems to the program.

How wonderful! What a great way for people to feel a little more ownership of their community. Resident poets can walk along, and then point out “that’s my poem!”

For those who simply enjoy the poems, residents can walk along reading poetry, knowing that it’s written by someone local. So fantastic for residents to feel pride in their community by knowing that creativity is thriving in their area. The sidewalks are transformed into an open poetry book.

My personal first gut reaction to seeing the image of the poem stamped in concrete is to think of my workplace for 18 years, the Tribune Tower, and its lobby filled with quotes engraved in limestone.

Tribune Tower photo by Flickr user srhbth

Filled with engraved quotes from famous people, the lobby of the Tribune Tower speaks wisdom from across the ages. The quotes are limited to mostly famous people.

Maybe that’s what makes Appleton’s program even more unique. This act of engraving in concrete (which is much like stone), is traditionally a hallowed technique to preserve historic quotes. Now this sacred methodology is available for anyone in Appleton!

How do they stamp the sidewalk? Just stand on the embossing plate. Simple and effective.

To get an idea of how many poems are spread throughout Appleton, here’s a map of the 2014 to 2019 additions. (View full map as PDF)

Appleton, Wisconsin map of sidewalk poetry locations. 2019

(H/T to The Hot Iron for posting this his What I learned this week for February 5, 2021)

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