The Muscatine County Arts Council has announced the 2016 Sidewalk Poetry Competition, Wandering Words. The contest will be open to all residents of Muscatine County.  Any resident can submit up to two original poems for consideration.

Poems may be vertical or horizontal in format.   Vertical format may have up to 11 lines with 26 or fewer spaces per line.  Horizontal format may have up to 8 lines with 36 or fewer spaces per line.

The winning poems will be stamped into the Muscatine sidewalk pavement in the downtown area as renovations are taking place and will be considered for other public purposes including publication and readings.  The rights and ownership of the poetry will remain with the author.  Poems that have been previously published are eligible for submission, as long as they are original works.

The names of the authors will not be included in the sidewalk design.

Angela Woodhouse of the Muscatine County Arts Council said the intent is to add interest to the downtown area and to add a fun element to visiting the downtown.

Woodhouse says the Council hopes that the project will help to “show interest in the arts through words.”

According to Woodhouse, similar projects have taken place in Iowa City, Morehead ND, and Saint Paul, MN.

The forms will be made of a reusable sturdy plastic that will press the words into freshly poured concrete as it sets.

The contest is being held in celebration of National Poetry Month; the competition is open from Friday, April 1, 2016, through Saturday, April 30, 2016.  Winning poems will be announced in May and installed as soon as weather permits.

The poems will be judged by Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander.

This project is a partnership with the Muscatine County Arts Council and the City of Muscatine.  It is funded by the Muscatine County Arts Council and a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine.

There is no charge for entry and all criteria for submissions may be found at The Muscatine County Arts Council website, www.muscatineartscouncil.org and on the Muscatine County Arts Council Facebook page.  Entries may be mailed to Muscatine County Arts Council, P.O. Box 815, Muscatine, IA, 52761.