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Poets are hardy souls. Three Evanston poets and a proxy for two others braved the stinging rain and wind of Oct. 19 so the City could formally recognize their works: a poem by each of them stamped into the concrete of the front sidewalk of the Main Library. Alicia Berneche, Charlotte Hart, Toby Sachs, Ethan Plaut and Susan Gundlach were the winners among the hundreds of Evanstonians who entered the City-sponsored poetry contest.

Josh Barney, chair of the City’s Public Art Committee, said the project, a collaboration between the Public Art Committee and the Public Works Department, “was uniquely Evanston – open only to Evanston residents, enhancing the space, supporting the building and giving insight into the community. “He added that the project was modeled after one in Minneapolis.

As wind and rain intensified outside, the small gathering of devotees of Erato, muse of poetry, gathered inside, in the community meeting room of the Library, where the entire program but the ribbon-cutting took place.

Mr. Sachs, Ms. Gundlach and Ms. Berneche read their poems, and Eloine Plaut – mother of Ethan and friend of Ms. Hart – read the other two. Saluting the events of the evening, Jessye Wright and Kyle Dougan joined Ms. Berneche, a colleague of theirs from Light Opera Works, in singing “Hail Poetry” from “The Pirates of Penzance.”

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the event was “a terrific example of public art in Evanston. It is totally Evanston.” Alluding to the fierce weather, she added, “You want to know how quickly I can cut a ribbon? Very, very quickly.”

Mayor Tisdahl was true to her word. Poets and their friends and families strolled down the sidewalk ramp in the gathering darkness and intermittent rain, reading concrete Evanston poetry.

The Poems in Concrete

The Poetic Foot

By Alicia Berneche

Your feet scan these words

And feel the vibration of meaning

Through their soles.

Poetry is motion

And the rhythm of bodies

That pound their stories

Into the earth.

 

 

Snowflakes

By Susan Gundlach

Flitting spots of white

Lighting on dead flower stalks:

Winter’s butterflies.

 

Clark Street Beach

By Charlotte Hart

Lake Michigan smooth

sunrise barefoot wedding

kissing laughing

tux pants rolled up

gown held above sand

We were the old couple walking by

Holding hands.

Research

By Ethan Plaut

My poems

Are research

Into how

The perfect

Conversation

Would sound

Just in case

I should find

The person

With whom to

Have it

 [Footprints]

By Toby Sachs

You may step where I step

But you may not walk in my shoes

Unless you try