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The Salt Lake City Arts Council’s Public Art Program is excited to announce the selection of 20 Salt Lake City-based writers for the Sidewalk Poetry: Senses of Salt Lake City public art project. Starting this summer, their selected poems will be imprinted into the fresh concrete of new sidewalks throughout Utah’s capital city.

What do you see, hear, smell, or feel when you explore your neighborhood? What resonates with you when you visit the Jordan River Parkway, Bonneville Shoreline, City Creek Canyon, or any other notable public spaces in Salt Lake City? For this project, the Salt Lake City Public Art Program asked writers to respond to the prompt, “How do you experience Salt Lake City?” This artist commission sought writing in English and Spanish, highlighting the beauty of Salt Lake’s urban and natural landscapes and celebrating the unique and diverse communities and individuals residing within Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods.

The project was inspired by cities nationwide that have implemented similar initiatives, including Portland, Oregon, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Takoma Park, Maryland. The Salt Lake City Public Art Program’s Sidewalk Poetry: Senses of Salt Lake City public art project aims to support local writers and to inspire individuals who encounter these poetic lines to ruminate on what aspects of Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods and natural areas they consider to be beautiful and unique.

Entries were reviewed by the Salt Lake Art Design Board and community stakeholders including current Utah Poet Laureate, Lisa Bickmore, Artes de México en Utah’s Poetry and Literature Coordinator, Aaron Garcia, and fellow juror for Sor Juana Poetry Contest, Lina Vega-Morrison. Sor Juana is the first and only statewide Spanish poetry contest in Utah.

The Sidewalk Poetry: Senses of Salt Lake City selected writers are John Boyack, Paulina Burnside, Nicolas Contreras, Pablo Cruz-Ayala, Tim Glenn, Kelly Goff, Holly Henderson, Aristotle Johns, Jasmine Khaliq, Cash Mendenhall, Jack Myhre, Arianna Rees, Joe Roberts, Nan Seymour, Samantha Shelley, Zachary Schwing, Keira Shae, Samantha da Silva, César Urbizu-Rodarte, and Susan J. Wurtzburg. Scroll down to learn more about these writers and check out their chosen poems.

The selection of these 20 writers and their poetry for this commission was recommended by the Salt Lake Art Design Board and subsequently approved by Mayor Erin Mendenhall. Their unique poems were selected following a ‘Request for Proposals’ process that was open to writers and artists residing in Salt Lake City. The concrete stamps will be fabricated and installed this summer.

We invite you to follow us on Instagram at @slc_publicartprogram for updates on this and the many other different projects we sponsor throughout Utah’s capital city. The Public Art Program is a service of the Salt Lake City Arts Council. You can learn more about what we do at www.saltlakearts.org and www.saltlakepublicart.org

Artist Bios: 

Wurtzburg Susan

Susan J. Wurtzburg received 1st place in the Elizabeth M. Campbell Poetry Award, 2022. She was a semi-finalist in the Crab Creek Review Poetry Competition 2022, and in the Naugatuck River Review's 14th Narrative Poetry Contest, 2022. Wurtzburg was a Community Poet in the Spring 2023 Poetry Workshop, Westminster College. Her poetry may be found online and in print.

Poem: 
Humpback Arcoíris – rock rojo, montaña mauve, cerulean nos lleva sky-high
Rainbow Humpback – red rock, mauve mountain, cerulean carries us sky-high

Urbizu Rodarte Cesar

Born and raised in Tampico, México, father of three tender souls, César Urbizu-Rodarte immigrated two decades ago to Salt Lake City; he is a musician and a writer by conviction and a postman by career, a lover of mountain trails accompanied by his dogs, and at home, a tired soccer player enjoying a book with his cats purring on his lap.

Poem: 
Escucho tu constante murmurar apaciguar el bullicio, sonorizas mi paz rio Jordan
I hear your constant murmuring calm the bustle, you sound my peace Jordan river

daSilva Samantha

Samantha da Silva (b.1978) is a Brazilian-born artist based in Salt Lake City, UT. Shaped by migration and a desire to create, she's moved over 40 times due to natural disasters and life circumstances. Her large-scale relief sculptures, resembling topographic maps and cracked earth, explore themes of belonging and resourcefulness. An educator, she's taught globally and featured in Architectural Digest and HGTV.

Poem: 
Rooted here, heart whispers "home."

 

Zach Schwing worked for almost a decade as a bicycle messenger in downtown Salt Lake City. He is currently writing and illustrating a work of hyper-modernist fiction featuring his fictional messenger persona “Hotspur.” Publication of the first novella is slated for summer/autumn 2024.

Poem: 
dry dust salt sea westwind sun chase
dew rise scrub oak and wet pine give race

Shelley Samantha

Samantha Shelley is a writer and content creator from Essex, England. She loves cats, the library, and swimming in mountain lakes. You can find her on social media @thesamspo.

Poem: 
Dragonflies summon me to apricot skies
As the river cuts the ribbon

Shae Keira

Keira Shae (M. Ed.) is a deaf Salt Lake author. She published a memoir, How the Light Gets In, with BCC in 2018. It chronicles her childhood with an uneducated mother addicted to methamphetamines and the Utah foster family that changed her life. She is a counselor for children and a proud mother of three sons.

Poem: 
You are Here.
You’ll find:
Human voice, a Sacred wild,
Broad streets &
Bearded grain.

Seymour Nan

Nan Seymour is a lake-facing poet who has led community vigils on behalf of the imperiled Great Salt Lake throughout the last three Utah State legislative sessions. She assembled the praise poem called Irreplaceable, a collective love letter to the lake containing over 400 individual voices.

Poem: 
A basin yearning to be full again,
a great lake dreaming herself whole again.

Robert Joe

Joe Roberts lives in Salt Lake City. His work has been featured in Tiny Seed Press, Haikuniverse, petrichor magazine, and the Rocky Mountain Revival Podcast. His first chapbook, Anathema, will be published in 2024. With his free time, Joe writes music reviews for SLUG Magazine, takes communion at local coffee shops, and hikes the Wasatch Front with his partner, Brooke.

Poem: 
To the mountains, our city
must seem a herd of hills
that somehow hum and shine.

Rees Arianna

Arianna Rees is a social media manager and writer who grew up in Cache Valley but now calls Salt Lake City home. When she isn't staring at a blank screen, willing words to appear, she can be found hiking in the Cottonwoods, enjoying a good film at The Broadway, or spending too much money at The King’s English.

Poem: 
Downtown blushes heartbeat red
at the nip of winter,
infant flakes race the train

Meyhre Jack

Jack Myhre grew up in the shadow of the Rwenzori Mountains before periods in central North Carolina and England slowly wore him down with their empty horizons. His heart yearned for elevation again and he found his way back to jagged contour lines, this time in Utah, where he spends his time taking pictures and making pasta, pizza, and pottery.

Poem: 
quiet eyes gaze west, there,
the jagged mountains slash through purple skies

 

Cash Mendenhall is a senior at West High School and was born and raised in Salt Lake City. He is interested in adapting our city to confront climate change and an increasingly tenuous relationship with our natural resources.

Poem: 
An emerald band between thirst and drowning
Between narratives
Between homelands

Khaliq Jasmine

Jasmine Khaliq is a Pakistani Mexican poet born and raised in Northern California. She holds a BA from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle. Currently, Jasmine is a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City where she lives with her partner Victor and Lucy, their beautiful dog.

Poem: 
The mountain is so pale, today--
Any color

You suggest,
It takes

Johns Artistotle

Aristotle Johns is a writer from Colorado. He lives in Salt Lake City, where he is pursuing a PhD in creative writing. Aristotle owes all and anything he is to his family and best friends.

Poem: 
clouds will hold themselves above
this ground where you are
another sort of sky

Henderson Holly

Holly Henderson is an artist and writer living in Salt Lake City. She creates mixed media artwork that combines words and imagery to tell a story of the shared human experience and connectedness we all experience. She is greatly inspired by family, nature, life, and love.

Poem: 
Even the mountains are cheering you on.

Goff Kelly

Kelly Goff is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Salt Lake City. Goff’s art practice observes how women are treated and how we experience the world. Consistent themes of exploration include power dynamics, domesticity, beauty standards and female reproductive health. The human body figures prominently in her work. Her sculptural and installation work has been exhibited locally and out of state.

Poem: 
The Oquirrhs in the distance
Held aloft by a corral of clouds
Quickly now before the wind picks up

Glenn tim

Tim Glenn is a museum professional and cultural sector enthusiast from Salt Lake City. He spends most of his time thinking about what he said in therapy the week before. He maintains a creative practice that currently revolves around single panel cartoons, mildly humorous (and mildly serious) poems, and drawing every coffee shop in SLC. In the past, Tim has also found success writing fiction, strongly worded letters, songs, typo-filled emails, and Dad-jokes.

Poem: 
Among peaks
I am a brother and a queen
a dreaming anticline
inciting revelry
& peace

Cruz Ayala Pablo

Pablo Cruz-Ayala explores the intersections between their Mexican/American heritage, and status as an undocumented immigrant through visual art. Currently studying Biomedical Engineering and Painting at the University of Utah, after which they hope to pursue a medical degree. They aim to continue nurturing and strengthening professional art and stem resources in Utah through community and research.

Poem: 
Undocumented, yet undeterred,
In every footstep, a story conferred.

Contreras nic

Nicolas Contreras is an American poet and artist, originally from Mar del Plata, Argentina — though He's called Utah his home for many years. As someone who values the work it takes to make a place home, he was most excited that the selections for this project would be in public spaces, for all to come across them and enjoy.

Poem: 
A cement valley with a blossom
always waiting to burst over its desert sky.

Burnside Paulina

Paulina Burnside was born and raised in the high desert mountains of northern New Mexico educated near the U.S./Mexican borderlands. Exploring spaces by foot, bicycle, or imagination takes up most of her time.

Poem: 
The Range eyes my
southbound course.
Sneakers are roots that move.

Boyack John

Loving father, poet, and children's book author. Born in Seattle, John Boyack relocated to Salt Lake City in 2001 and enrolled at the University of Utah earning BA degrees in English and Political Science, and a master's degree in public administration. He loves reading, hiking, and creating with his daughter Hattie and thanks Miriam, his lightning bolt, for inspiring this poem.

Poem: 
Love is a sapling's effort
Canvas, concrete
A park bench
The corner fleur
Con ganas de conocerte
(Looking forward to meeting you)

The Salt Lake City Arts Council is a division of Salt Lake City Corporation in the Department of Economic Development and also maintains a nonprofit corporation, the Salt Lake City Arts Council Foundation with 501(c)(3) status.

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