Poetry in Public celebrates our community’s rich literary tradition and local writing talent by displaying poems by writers of all ages.
The 2024 program will begin accepting submissions in October 2024. Selected poems are posted for viewing all over the community – including inside city buses, at the Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City Recreation Centers and the Johnson County Senior Center.
Please note that if the poem you are submitting has been previously published in a book, magazine, journal, newspaper, or other form, you will need to have permission for the poem to be used in the Poetry in Public Project. It is the poet’s responsibility to get this permission prior to submission.
Poems are limited to 7 lines or less. The 2023 submission deadline has passed.
Poetry in Public 2020 student poetry–not processed due to COVID-19 pandemic
Marcia Bollinger, long-time Neighborhood Services Coordinator for the City of Iowa City, started Poetry in Public in 2002, shortly after the grand opening of the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk. Marcia had conversations with several area writers and poets over the course of the creation of the Lit Walk, and realized there was so much local literary talent and it would be nice to have an opportunity to showcase their work. Marcia worked with well-known Iowa City poet Marvin Bell and some members of the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) to design the program. It was Bell’s idea to include school aged children in the program, and to create a review committee representing a broad number of organizations including the University of Iowa, local bookstores, libraries, and the PAAC. A board member from UNESCO was added when the city received it’s designation as a City of Literature in 2008.