Zionsville Cultural District stamps sidewalk poetry in the town


By Chris Bavender

The goal of the Zionsville Sidewalk Poetry Contest is to place poetry throughout the town. It started in 2016 when the Zionsville Cultural District Board of Directors was searching for ways to connect with the town.

“We entertained several different ideas and possibilities, but the sidewalk poetry rose to the top for many reasons,” said Carla Howie, ZCD board president. “There is a strong, active poetry group, Brick Street Poetry, that meets monthly at the SullivanMunce. Indiana is home to a poet laureate, Joyce Brinkman, and we would be the first to bring this kind of art program to Indiana.”

A year later, the contest was launched.

“We had to get guidance from St Paul, Minn., as they have a long-standing poetry sidewalk program,” Howie said.

The contest has first- and second-place winners in the adult and youth categories. In its first year, nearly 300 entries were received. In 2018, the number was slightly lower.

“The poems are adjudicated by a separate panel of seasoned poets from the Brick Street Poetry group,” Howie said. “The criteria to be considered for selection are that the poems must not be political or religious in nature, have any derogatory or sexual connotations and be six lines in length.”

Two of the winning poems have been stamped near downtown Zionsville at the corner of Ash and 3rd streets. The other two winning poems have been stamped at the corner of Cedar and 1st streets near Lincoln Park.

“The plan is to place poetry throughout the town,” Howie said. “The superintendent of streets and stormwater will notify us when there is an opportunity to replace a section of sidewalk, and a stamp of poetry will be placed in instead.”

The 2018 winners are:

Youth division:

  • First place – Aleyna Salas, Eagle Elementary
  • Second place – Elia Makinson, Zionsville West Middle School

Adult division:

  • First place – Mary M. Brown, Anderson
  • Second place – S. Evan Walters, Lebanon

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