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, Iowa City Public Library, 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. 

Now accepting poetry submissions for Poetry in Public 2017

Now in its 15th year, Iowa City’s Poetry in Public project is accepting poetry submissions from writers of all ages. Published and unpublished poets in Johnson County are invited to submit their poems for consideration. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

Rules for submission include:

  • 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 seven 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.
  • Submissions for the 2017 program are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.
  • Copies of submitted poems will not be returned.

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 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.

How to submit poetry for Poetry in Public

Submission Form (PDF)

Submission Form (Word) 

Mail a hard copy

  • Print or obtain a copy of the submissions form and fill it out.
  • Mail the submission to: 

Marcia Bollinger 
City of Iowa City
410 E. Washington St.
Iowa City, IA 52240  

​Electronic submissions

Email attachment

  • Open the current year’s Poetry in Public Submission Form
  • Fill out the PDF or Word document and save a copy to your computer
  • Attach the saved document to an email addressed to Marcia-Bollinger@iowa-city.org

Email without an attachment

  • Send an email with all of the information from the submission form in the body of the email.


Title of poem: 

Has the poem been previously published?

If so, where?: 

Poet’s name: 


City, State, Zip:

Phone Number: 

Email Address: 

Include if 18 years of age or younger



Grade: (only if submitted by classroom include) 

Teacher’s name:

Teacher’s email:    

  •  Attach your poem to the email or type the poem into the body of the email.

Note: If you send the poem in the body of the email, special formatting may be lost. If you choose to use special formatting, please include a note explaining what formatting you used. 

Send the email addressed to marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org.

If you do not receive an email confirmation that your poem has been received within two business days, please contact Marcia Bollinger at marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org or 319-356-5237. 

Selected poems


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

For more selected poems from previous years, please send an email to marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org.