May 12, 2022

Conway Public Poetry Project opens submissions | News

The Conway Public Poetry Project seeks original poetry from Conway residents ages 5 through adulthood.

Led by the non-profit Blackbird Arts Collective, the project hopes to encourage local writers while adding poetry to the city’s growing collection of public art. The Conway Public Art Committee and the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas are also partners in the initiative.

The project is inspired by similar programs such as Poetry in Motion, which places poetry in the transit systems of major cities across the United States. While previous programs have used the work of famous poets, the Conway Public Poetry Project will focus on original works by local residents.

“Poetry has always been a source of inspiration and comfort to me,” said Jennie McNulty, founder and board member of the Blackbird Arts Collective. “Words have such immense power – I thought, ‘how can we harness that power in a way that can have a positive effect on our community?’”

To celebrate National Poetry Month, the project will host an open submission period from April 1-30 through a short online process. A committee – which includes representatives from the Blackbird Arts Collective, the Conway Public Art Committee, the Conway City Planning Department, the Hendrix English Department and the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas – will review all submissions and choose a number of poems to feature in temporary, semi-permanent or permanent installations around the town of Conway.

The committee encourages all Conway residents to submit – children, adults, budding poets and professional writers.

“We are delighted to open the project to the community,” said Catherine Buercklin, local poet and committee member. “Poetry, to me, is a glimpse into another person’s life. A certain phrase or word can have the most wonderful impact.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, committee member, poet and visiting poetry scholar at Hendrix College, said: “When I read submissions, I look for lines that sing off the page, images that activate the six senses, and stories that persist in my bones. This project is an opportunity for you to share your unique voice and song with your community.

The Creative Institute of Central Arkansas joined the project, with its students helping to create the project’s marketing materials.

“The Poetry Project aligns perfectly with our mission to equip creatives with the tools they need to thrive,” said Jessica Crum, Founder of the Institute. “We are thrilled to help provide a visual platform for poets in our community – the display of poetry throughout the city indicates that Conway is a place where the arts play an important role in moving us forward.”

Conway’s Public Art Committee approved the use of $5,000 from the public art budget to help cover installation costs. Details and submission guidelines can be found at https://blackbirdartscollective.org/poetry.