MUSCATINE, Iowa–Starting the spring of 2016, the Muscatine County Arts Council began honoring local poets in a lasting way. After announcing the winners of their Wandering Words poetry contest held in April to coincide with National Poetry Month, they emblazoning their poems on sidewalks across the city to bring their works to a wider audience.
Despite a smaller number of submissions due to the COVID-19 school closures (many students submit poems as part of class projects) Arts Council member Ed Chamberlin shared that they did receive 19 entries for consideration. From these, they selected five winners, Yvonne Breiner, Duffy De France, Mike Fladien, Annette Matjucha Hovland, and Suzanne Thielmann, with honorable mentions going to Mike Ruby and Rachel Roeth, as well as to an additional poem of Matjucha Hovland’s.
In years past, the Arts Council announced its winners at the first of their Second Sunday concerts. Though they could not do so this year, they still look forward to honoring these local poets by having Jeff Hargrove engrave their poems in several highly visible locations around Muscatine. These include 102 Iowa Avenue (Fladien), 117 West Mississippi Drive near the Merrill Hotel (Breiner), 119 West Mississippi Drive near the Merrill Hotel (Thielmann), the 100 block of Chestnut Street (Matjucha Hovland), and 1304 Mulberry Avenue near the Muscatine Art Center (De France).
Over the years, the Arts Council compiled a directory of all the poems and locations they have graced the sidewalks with through the Wandering Words contest. They encourage you to view it at https://discovermuscatine.com/wandering-words-poetry-contest-winners/ and to use it to plan pleasant, socially distanced walks this summer.