Michigan State University

MSU Sidewalk Poetry Competition

MSU Sidewalk Poetry Project with sneakers


You are invited to attend the first MSU Sidewalk Poetry Project's reception to announce the winners of the contest! 

Where: Broad Art Museum Education Wing
Date: April 25, 2018
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Tentative Schedule

  • 7:00 Gather/Mingle/ look at photographs
  • 7:20 Introduce the winners (Nancy)
  • 7:30 David says a bit about each poem
  • 7:40 Winners read
  • 8:00 Food
  • 8:20ish David Adams reads


The Sidewalk Poetry Project celebrates the creative spirit of our Spartan community by displaying their poetry as public art across campus.

MSU undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty/staff, and alumni may submit original, unpublished poems to be judged by selected members of the Sidewalk Poetry Committee and nationally recognized poets. Winners’ poems will be etched into sidewalks throughout campus.

This year’s competition will honor the Arts and Culture theme: Water Moves... (see http://artsandculture.msu.edu/ for an overview of events). Entries should support the thematic focus on “empowering community action, inspiring creativity, and instilling a sense of urgency to respect and appreciate the most prevalent and precious resource on our planet.”

Winning poems will be etched into sidewalks in areas appropriate to content and theme.

Contest Rules and Information


The first sidewalk poetry contest is open to all voices from four groups of MSU community members:

  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • Faculty/Staff
  • Alumni

Individuals may submit one (1) poem per category and are limited to submitting to only one (1) category.

Duration of Contest

Submissions are due by December 31, 2017. Winners will be notified by March 15, 2018. Installations are planned for late April of 2018.

Submission Guidelines

Character and Length Requirements

Poems should not exceed 27 lines at 40 characters per line. This count includes title, author’s name, and stanza breaks.

We will strive to honor the original format of the poems, but should the need to alter line breaks and other aspects of formatting according to the needs of production occur, authors will be consulted before final decisions are made.


Poets retain ownership of the work, but Michigan State University reserves the right to use reproductions of the work.

Note: Given that this is a projected image, there is SOME flexibility in final size. These recommendations are based on readability and the limitations of the installation process. The maximum area allowed per poem installation is 3’ wide x 4’ high.


Judging will be organized through the Center For Poetry in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at MSU.

We are happy to announce that David Adams has agreed to judge this competition. David Adams was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At Bowling Green State University, he studied with the poet Frederick Eckman and received an MFA in Poetry. Since then he has lived in many places as a wandering poet, laborer, academic and technical writer. The academic side of that wandering led him to such institutions as varied as Unity College, The University of Maine at Farmington, Cornell, Michigan State and Johnson &Wales, and, for the last ten years, extensive work travel in Micronesia. He returned home in 2011. He has published ten collections of poetry, the most recent being Waiting Places: Poems of Advent Seasons (2016. Blue Shale Books). More than 90 of his poems have appeared in literary journals. With Linda Wagner-Martin, he edited Over West: Selected Writings of Frederick Eckman, with Commentaries and Appreciations. (1999 National Poetry Foundation). David also authored COPE: a Technical Writing Guide for Engineers 3rd Ed. (2016. University of New Haven). Prior to Voice of the Lake, David previously collaborated with Margaret Brouwer on “Whom Do You Call Angel Now?”, from a cycle of poems written after 9/11.

Winners will be informed via email of their selection no later than March 15, 2018. Winning poems and their authors will be introduced to the community at a reception in April 2018. Details to follow.


If you have questions, please send an email to the committee.


The Public Art on Campus Committee donated partial funds in support of this project. You too can support the project by donating to CrowdPower.