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Newton pedestrians find poetry beneath their feet

Grey Held from Make Poetry Concrete shows off the engraved poem, “Spring,” by Nancy Genevieve on the sidewalk at the intersection of Oak and Christina Streets in Newton.
Grey Held from Make Poetry Concrete shows off the engraved poem, “Spring,” by Nancy Genevieve on the sidewalk at the intersection of Oak and Christina Streets in Newton.Handout

Newton pedestrians can now read award-winning poetry as they walk some of the city’s sidewalks.

The public art project Make Poetry Concrete is engraving 10 poems on Newton’s sidewalks to introduce the art of literature to residents’ everyday life, according to the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

“It feels really nice to stop for a moment to read a poem. It’s also a moment to think about family, friends, and life,” said Shubee Sikka, urban designer for the Department of Planning and Development.

The first poem was engraved underfoot in late August at the intersection of Oak and Christina Streets on Needham Street, according to the planning department.

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Sikka said 140 Newton residents and people outside of the community submitted their poems, and 10 poets have been selected, including two Newton public school students.

“Some of the poems will likely make people laugh or smile, others may make them nod in understanding,” said Grey Held, artistic director and creator of Make Poetry Concrete.

Held said he initiated the project last year to promote contemporary poetry in modern society with the support of the city of Newton, Newton Community Pride, MassDevelopment, and the Newton community.

“I believe people love poetry, they just don’t know it yet. And part of that is the lack of exposure to poetry,” said Held.

Held said Make Poetry Concrete is the result of many donations from corporations and individuals who helped a crowdfunding campaign achieve its goal of $7,500.

“To see so many people, including so many of my friends as well as strangers, contribute was so heartening and validating. That was an exciting moment reaching the goal,” said Held.

Newton residents also can see two other poems at the Horace Mann Elementary School and F.A. Day Middle School.

Sikka said the department is making an ongoing effort to install seven more poems by the end of next year.

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“It is my hope that these poems will encourage us to consider other perspectives, open our eyes to new ways of seeing,” said Held.

The poem “Spring” by Nancy Genevieve was installed in late August at the intersection of Oak and Christina Streets in Newton.
The poem “Spring” by Nancy Genevieve was installed in late August at the intersection of Oak and Christina Streets in Newton.Grey Held

Anju Miura can be reached at newtonreport@globe.com.