What is it you love about your community? Where do you feel the most connected? The most alive? The most relaxed? 

Windwalker Underground Gallery, in partnership with Lansing Poet Laureate Dennis Hinrichsen, is looking for those who can express their connection with the vibrancy and creativity of the Charlotte community through their own artistic expression. 

The Sidewalk Poetry Contest, announced in the fall of 2018, is looking for poems that reveal and celebrate the writer’s connection to the artistic, creative and cultural life of Charlotte. Windwalker Underground Gallery board member Kalli Dempsey said the contest is open to all current and former residents of Charlotte, allowing individuals the opportunity to submit two pieces of work for consideration.  The deadline to submit your poem is March 15.

Two winning poems will be selected, and the poems will be permanently etched in concrete. One will be etched outside the front entrance to Windwalker Underground Gallery, located at 125 S. Cochran Avenue in downtown Charlotte. The other will be etched outside of the Charlotte Performing Arts Center.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate both art and community while also connecting two major hubs of arts and culture both downtown and just outside of town,” said Kalli, who has worked to bring this competition to life. “I was inspired by the Lansing Sidewalk Poetry contest that occurred this past summer, watching how excited people were to stop and read poetry while out enjoying their downtown districts. As I watched this unfold in Lansing, I knew that we could do this on a smaller scale here in Charlotte, and I starting working with Lansing Poet Laureate Dennis Hinrichsen right away to move this project forward.”  

The selected poems will be announced on April 1, Kalli said, and the process of etching will take place in April pending weather conditions. 

“Over the last two years Dennis has done some amazing work connecting so many of the communities in this region and the artists within them through poetry and storytelling, and I wanted to do one last fun project with him that would have a direct impact on our community,” Kalli said. “We host a monthly Poetry Open Mic on our stage, and it has been wonderful to watch this event continue to grow as more and more people realize that Windwalker is a safe space to express emotions through poetry.”

Interested parties can submit up to two poems for consideration online at LansingPoet.com until the submission deadline of March 15, 2019. Character and Length Requirements: Please use Times Roman, 12 point. Poems should not exceed 20 lines. This count includes title, author’s name, and all blank lines and stanza breaks.  For help with formatting, or any other barriers to submission contact Kalli Dempsey at WindwalkerUnderground@gmail.com or (517) 652-3228.

“I challenge readers to take a few moments and think about what this place means to you, or your kids, or your parents, and start to put that into writing,” Kalli said. This contest is asking residents what this city means to the people who have lived here, loved here, raised families here, made invaluable memories here. I will keep screaming it until I am blue in the face that Charlotte is a really cool place to live, and soon enough the whole region will be coming to check out all that we have to offer here.”

Sponsors of this contest include Windwalker Underground Gallery, Friends of the Charlotte Performing Arts Center, Charlotte Rising, and Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital.