Inspired, perhaps, by those trendsetters in the East (meaning St. Paul), Minneapolis is melding sidewalks and poetry. Sort of.

The Downtown Improvement District, or DID, is asking citizens to compose poems to be printed on signs placed along a new concrete sidewalk on Nicollet Mall between 4th Street and Washington Avenue S.

While loath to ding any effort to increase poetry's visibility, we must point out that in St. Paul, they actually press words into wet cement, enabling hundreds of poems to literally become of the city, impervious to all assaults save for discarded gum and the digestive culmination of a passing hound.

Hmm. Signs may not be a bad idea, after all.

In any case, DID seeks original poems about Nicollet Mall and its role in Minneapolis' future as the city begins redesigning the venerated avenue. Each poem must be no longer than 30 words, in English, and must include one or more of these key words: change, vision, vibrant, community, future, gather or commerce.

(That vibration you feel is Emily Dickinson spinning in her grave.)

Submit your poem by July 22 by entering it online at or by mailing or delivering it to DID, 81 S. 9th St., Suite 260, Minneapolis, MN 55402. Or drop it off at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., or the Central Library on Nicollet Mall. Age-based categories are adults, seniors (65 and older), pre-kindergarten to grade two, grades three to eight, and grades nine-12.

Winners will be announced on Aug. 15.