Graphic for the Poetry in Public program is shown.

It’s time once again for local writers to submit poems for consideration in the 18th Annual Poetry in Public, sponsored by the Iowa City Public Art Program. Writers of all ages, 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.

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. The winning poems will be presented in public buses and select public buildings from May through the fall of 2020. Selected poets will also have the opportunity to read their poems publicly as part of the Iowa Arts Festival in June.

Rules for the competition are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Special complex formatting, layouts, “word art,” and use of non-standard typefaces should be avoided.
  • If reprint permissions are required, please get permission prior to submitting your work.

Entries can now be submitted on the new online submission option located on the Poetry in Public website at A printable form is also available on the website or by request. 

2020 Poetry in Public poetry must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.  Please contact  Marcia Bollinger at or 319-356-5237 if you have questions or wish to be provided a submission form.

Date of publication

Thursday, December 12, 2019