Poetry in Public

Poetry in Public celebrates our community’s rich literary tradition and local writing talent by displaying poems by writers of all ages.

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 deadline to submit to the 2024 program has passed. Selected poets will be notified soon.


Poetry in Public 2023 adult poems

Poetry in Public 2023 student poems


Poetry in Public 2022 Adult and Student poetry


Poetry in Public 2021 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2021 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2020 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2020 student poetry–not processed due to COVID-19 pandemic


Poetry in Public 2019 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2019 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2018 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2018 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2017 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2017 student poetry

Poetry Readings by several 2017 poets


Poetry in Public 2016 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2016 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2015 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2015 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2014 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2014 student poetry


Poetry in Public 2013 adult poetry

Poetry in Public 2013 student poetry

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.