Some sidewalks can now talk to you in Takoma Park

In one Maryland town, some of the sidewalks are more than just cement, they are meant to inspire you, make you think, or, in some cases, just make you chuckle.

Sidewalk poetry is going on in Takoma Park, and the poets are all residents of the town.

Takoma Park’s Arts and Humanities Coordinator Brendan Smith said he got the idea from a similar project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I thought it was just a really cool idea, a way to get poetry out of poetry readings and out into the street where people can see it,” Smith said.

Earlier this year, residents were asked to submit their poetry with a chance to have it stamped into newly re-laid sidewalks, and Smith said more than 100 submissions came in. Poems from 10 adults and 10 children were selected for the project.

Among the poems on display is by Aissatou Thiam, 7, whose short poem is now on a sidewalk near the intersection of Flower and Carroll avenues. It reads, “Six Legs, Tiny Ants, Don’t crawl up my pants!”

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

Also selected are lyrics from a song written by longtime Takoma Park resident Richard Weil. The words are from his song “A Melody,” and it reads, “Know, that a valley is a mountain resting.”

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

Weil said he’s honored his poem was selected, and he hopes all the poems that will eventually be stamped into re-done sidewalks will be enjoyed by those who see them.

“Hopefully it will make their day better, or make them think a little more about how incredible life can be,” Weil said.

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

“I like the idea of just people being able to walk in their neighborhood, to sort of stumble by these and see them, and maybe give them a little smile or something to think about,” Smith said.

Find out more about where the sidewalk poetry is located.

Takoma Park, Md. resident Aissatou Thiam, 7, sits next to her poem that was stamped into a sidewalk.
Takoma Park, Maryland, resident Aissatou Thiam, 7, sits next to her poem that was stamped into a sidewalk as part of the town’s Sidewalk Poetry project.

Richard Weil kneels near the lyrics of a song he wrote, that is now stamped into a sidewalk in Takoma Park, Md.
Richard Weil kneels near the lyrics of a song he wrote, that is now stamped into a sidewalk along Flower Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland. Joining him in the photo is Aissatou Thiam, 7, whose poem is also on display in the town.

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

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Takoma Park, Md. resident Aissatou Thiam, 7, sits next to her poem that was stamped into a sidewalk.
Richard Weil kneels near the lyrics of a song he wrote, that is now stamped into a sidewalk in Takoma Park, Md.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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