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Poetry In Public

Poetry in Public celebrates Iowa City’s rich literary tradition and local writing talent by displaying poems by writers of all ages in City buses, downtown kiosks, Iowa City Recreation buildings, and other public facilities from April (National Poetry Month) through the fall. Poems are also archived on the list below. Iowa City is internationally recognized by UNESCO as a City of Literature. 

All poems that are submitted will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Selected poems will then be displayed throughout the Iowa City community and on local and literary websites from April (National Poetry Month) through the fall. Selected poets will receive their work on a poster to keep. They will also have the opportunity to work with a local artist in the Poetry in Public Art Program, and present their poem in a public reading during the Iowa Arts Festival in June.


  • You must be a resident of Johnson County, Iowa to have your work considered
  • Only one poem per author will be considered.
  • The poem can be no more than 7 lines (not including the title) and can be either an existing or new work.
  • Poems are generally published as is; therefore, we ask that teachers and/or parents work with students on proper spelling and punctuation before submission.
  • An excerpt from a longer poem will be considered if it can stand alone.
  • Poems will be judged on quality of writing as well as accessibility and suitability for public display before a general audience.
  • Special complex formatting of submitted poems should be avoided, particularly “Word Art” type word/graphics and words/letters that are diagrammed as pictures.
  • If reprint permissions are required, please get permission prior to submitting your work.
  • Include your name, address, and phone number with your e-mail submission, or mail the attached form with your submission. Please include an email address with mailed submissions if possible. A teacher’s email is adequate if submissions are generated through a school process.
  • Copies of submitted poems will not be returned.

Send your poem to:

410 East Washington St.
Iowa City, IA 52240
Attn: Marcia Bollinger

or fill out the submission form, under the resources column at the top of the page, and email it to marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org

All poetry submissions will be judged by an independent panel of writing professionals, librarians, and the general public. Writers whose poems are chosen for display will be notified in early March. While there is no honorarium offered, each writer whose work is displayed will receive a copy of the poster featuring his/her poem.

The Poetry in Public project reserves the right to refuse poems that are too long or could be seen as unsuitable for public display.

For more information contact: Marcia Bollinger, Iowa City Public Art Program, at 319-356-5237 or marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org.


Poetry in Public 2013:

Adult Poets  Youth Poets

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