Art Underfoot: More Sidewalk Poems Printed on City Streets

sidewalk poetryPoet Molly Lynn Watt (left, in red shirt) and Cambridge Arts director of public art Lillian Hsu watch as Watt's poem is pressed into the sidewalk. Photo courtesy of the Cambridge Arts Council.

If you’re not watching where you’re walking, you might miss them: poems printed in city sidewalks throughout Cambridge.

Each year, the Cambridge Arts Council runs a contest, asking for submissions of poems by Cambridge residents that are then stamped into sidewalks. The Sidewalk Poetry project is part of a collaboration with the Department of Public Works and the Cambridge Public Library, and it’s a real win-win; the printed panels are pressed into stretches of sidewalk that are being repaired anyway as part of usual maintenance. Why not put some poetry in there?

sidewalk poetry

As you can see in the photo above, the poem is made into a large plate (not unlike a big ol’ rubber stamp), then pressed into wet concrete.

The latest sidewalk poem is Molly Lynn Watt’s “Jazz Riff,” which was pressed on Friday, August 11. You can check out the poem in person on Prospect Street, in front of Christ the King Presbyterian Church (99 Prospect St.), and next to the Whole Foods.

(Just a little tip from us to you: This, and all of the sidewalk poems, are very Instagrammable.)

You can also read Watt’s poem in full below:

Jazz Riff
I want to write a poem
the way a jazz man
composes on his feet
sways in rhythm
taps a syncopated beat
I want to howl and growl
to a bottleneck slide
pulse with rage and heat
rap a wild wind run
blast injustice to the gutter

Learn more about the Sidewalk Poetry program here.