Submissions for Poetry in Public 2021 are now being accepted for consideration in the 19th annual Poetry in Public Program, sponsored by the Iowa City Public Art Program. Writers of all ages and all levels of writing ability and experience are encouraged to submit entries to the contest. Poetry in Public was initiated in 2002 to celebrate, promote and nurture Iowa City’s rich literary tradition, especially its local talent and writing culture.

This year, the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature is partnering with Iowa City Public Art to manage Poetry in Public, and will officially adopt the program in 2022. Although very little will change, this partnership will provide a broader network for sharing the selected poetry, including additional social media opportunities, placement on the City of Literature website, and more.

As has occurred in previous years, a panel of local judges will review entries and then select poems for display throughout the Iowa City community and on local and literary websites. Winning poems will be presented in public buses and select public buildings from May through the fall of 2021, and shared on numerous digital platforms, including social media. Selected poets will also have the opportunity to read their poems publicly as part of the Iowa Arts Festival in June.

Competition rules:

  • Entrants must be residents of Johnson County.
  • Only one poem per author will be considered. Submitted poems will not be returned.
  • The poem can be no more than seven lines in length (not including the title), and can be either an existing or new work.
  • 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.
  • Complex formatting, layouts, “word art,” and use of non-standard typefaces should be avoided.
  • If reprint permissions are required, please receive permission prior to submitting your work.

Entries can now be submitted on the new on-line submission form, located on the Poetry in Public web page at  A printable form is also available on the website or by request. 

Entries for Poetry in Public 2021 must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 2, 2021. Please contact Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator Marcia Bollinger at or 319-356-5237 if you have questions or wish to be provided a submission form.

The Iowa City Artists Registry
Image for Iowa City Artist Registry.
This new registry is now available for submissions by local artists and arts organizations/businesses and is searchable by everyone! Visit Iowa City Artist Registry to learn more.

Date of publication

Monday, February 15, 2021