Some sidewalks can now talk to you in Takoma Park

In a city in Maryland, some sidewalks are more than cement, they are supposed to inspire you, make you think, or in some cases just make you laugh. The poetry of the sidewalks is making its way in the town of Takoma Park. The poets are all city dwellers. Takoma Park arts and humanities director Brendan Smith said he came up with the idea for a similar project in St. Paul Minnesota. “I thought it was just a really cool idea, a way to take poetry out of poetry readings and bring it out onto the streets where people can see it,” Smith said.

In a city in Maryland, some sidewalks are more than cement, they are meant to inspire you, make you think, or in some cases make you laugh.

The poetry on the sidewalks takes place in Takoma Park and the poets are all residents of the city.

Takoma Park’s arts and humanities coordinator Brendan Smith said he came up with the idea for a similar project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I thought it was just a really cool idea, a way to take poetry out of poetry readings and bring it out onto the streets where people can see it,” Smith said.

Earlier this year, residents were invited to submit their poetry with a chance to have it stamped on the newly remodeled sidewalks, and Smith said more than 100 submissions had been received. Poems by 10 adults and 10 children were selected for the project.

Among the poems on display is 7-year-old Aissatou Thiam, whose short poem now sits on a sidewalk near the intersection of Flower and Carroll avenues. It is written: “Six legs, little ants, don’t crawl in my pants!

“I chose this poem because I knew it was going to be on the sidewalk, and there are ants on the sidewalk,” Thiam said.

The lyrics of a song written by longtime Takoma Park resident Richard Weil are also selected. The lyrics are taken from his song “A Melody” and it is written: “Know that a valley is a mountain at rest. “

He said the words are meant to help people get through tough times, and he said the person who owns the house on Flower Avenue near where his poem is stamped, told him the lyrics had really resonated with their family.

Weil said he was honored that his poem was selected, and he hopes any poems that eventually get carved on the remade sidewalks will be appreciated by those who see them.

“Hopefully this will improve their day or make them think a little more about how amazing life can be,” Weil said.

Smith said that so far only three of the poems are in place, but the remaining 17 will appear as sidewalks are redone across town.

“I like the idea that people can just walk around their neighborhood, sort of trip over these and see them, and maybe give them a little smile or something to think about,” Smith said.

Learn more about where the sidewalk poetry is located.

Takoma Park, Md., Resident Aissatou Thiam, 7, sits next to her poem which was stamped on a sidewalk as part of the city’s Sidewalk Poetry project.

OMCP / Mike Murillo

Richard Weil kneels beside the lyrics to a song he wrote, which is now etched on a sidewalk in Takoma Park, Md.

Richard Weil kneels beside the lyrics of a song he wrote, which is now etched on a sidewalk along Flower Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland. Aissatou Thiam, 7, joins him in the photo, whose poem is also on display in the city.

OMCP / Mike Murillo

Poet Nala Miller, 7, in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Courtesy of Kerron Miller

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