Poems Stamped into Sidewalks in Downtown Youngstown

Two sidewalk squares by the Commerce Building on Walnut Street have been embossed with poetry by Lit Youngstown. This was part of the year-long project titled,“Words Made Visible,” which pairs literary arts like poetry and stories with visual art media.

According to a Lit Youngstown press release, Youngstown State University art students made sculptures, paintings and films that responded to literary art.

Rich Mills, owner of the Commerce Building, approved the stamps along a stretch of sidewalk that was slated for repair, the press release stated.

A few lines were excerpted from a poem by Laura Grace Weldon titled, “Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” for a sidewalk stamp. The other excerpt is from a poem celebrating the immigrant workers who built Youngstown, by Jeanne Bryner, a retired nurse in Newton Falls.

In the press release, Weldon said she was “stunned by gratitude” to have her poem selected for the project.

“Oh my gosh; never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a portion of my writing stamped in pavement,” Weldon said.

The project received matching funding from the Ohio Arts Council. Michael Staaf of Steel Valley Signs designed and manufactured the reusable stamps, the press release said.

Two more poem stamps are waiting for placement. The excerpts are by Jeffrey Murphy, a Youngstown writer and student at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and David Lee Garrison, a retired English professor at Wright State University in Dayton.

For more information go to LitYoungstown.org.