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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

More Public Poetry Installations: St. Paul and San Francisco

By November 24, 2008

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Earlier this year, we took note of several public spaces where poetry has been made permanent in the form of public art pieces, and it’s still happening. Poems have appeared as a permanent part of the urban landscape in St. Paul, Minnesota, and just this week two installations of outdoor poetry-art have opened in my own city, San Francisco.

from The Christian Science Monitor:
Sidewalk Stanzas,” by Matthew Shaer
“On a damp day this fall, I drove with Marcus Young to Frogtown, a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown St. Paul. Mr. Young, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, has spent the past year stamping oversized poems into cement across the city – a public arts project he calls, with something less than poetic flourish, ‘Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.’”

(For a virtual tour of the project, visit the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk Web site.)

from The San Francisco Chronicle:
Poetry on Canvas,” by Pam Grady
“The finished project combines painting and spoken word, but it begins with the 18 portraits Bissell painted of Youth Speaks’ young writers.... In addition to the paintings at the Intersection gallery, more of the paintings are displayed on streets throughout the city, including the 16th Street BART station, the Tenderloin’s Cohen Alley, and Lilly’s Bar-B-Que on Divisadero Street in the Western Addition.”

(Evan Bissell’s show is called “Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere*: Youth, Imagination, and Transformation,” and you can explore the whole show online at his Web site. *from Jayne Cortez’s book of that title)

also from The San Francisco Chronicle:
Words take wing in North Beach artwork,” by Sam Whiting
“At first glance, the new public art project unveiled Sunday in San Francisco’s North Beach appears to be a flock of birds taking off from a traffic island at Columbus Avenue and Broadway.... A closer look reveals that the ‘birds’ are actually 23 illuminated white polycarbonate books suspended in midair with their pages opened as if startled into flight.... ‘Language of the Birds’ is a permanent installation by San Francisco artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn. Etched into the concrete below the books, strung among two stoplight poles and one streetlight stanchion, are words that appear to have fallen from their pages.”

(You can read about and see photographs of this piece at Brian Goggin’s Web site.)
Are there poems permanently ensconced somewhere public in your town? Tell us about them in Comments (below), please!

Previous notes on poetry in public places:
Poetry Made Public and Permanent, or Perhaps Not So Permanent
Archipoetry 101,” Gary Mex Glazner explores community building & Poet’s Plaza becomes a reality
Poets’ Way,” Boulder blazes a poetic trail, by Michael Evans Smith
Herman Berlandt’s International Poetry Museum,” by Marj Hahne

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