I Am A Town

Poetry about our city, by its residents, exploring the meaning of place

Click on each image to read the full text of the poem!

The "I Am A Town" project was created by former Spokane Poet Laureate Laura Read, in partnership with Spokane Arts. Read held a series of free community writing workshops on the theme of "place," giving residents of our region a way to write about the locations and places, past or present, most meaningful to them. Following the workshops, Spokane Arts put out a call for any and all community members to submit their own place-based poems. From all the poetry submitted, a jury of poets, art commissioners, and residents selected 13 poems to be used as temporary art in our city. Local graphic designer Danielle Davis designed the text for the stencils, which were cut at Gizmo CDA with the help of their wonderful founders, Marty and Barb Mueller. Spokane Arts sought the permission of the City of Spokane, the Parks department, and individual property & business owners, who were delighted to host these bright, colorful installations. This project was made possible with the support of the Community Building Foundation and many volunteers. We hope you enjoy it! 

On Monroe Street, the sky outside our windows / was always most lovely in the evenings, / pink like the inside of a body.
— Maya Jewell Zeller
I am a margarita at the Baby Bar / a poem in the mouth.
— Karen Mobley
I have a photograph of you smiling over orchids / in the Gaiser Conservatory. / All winter it hurt to look at you, trying to explain how / peonies survive the cold. 
— Makayla Wamboldt
I am always here, / sitting on a stool and trying my hardest / to learn whatever lessons / this place has to teach.
— Alaric Goodman
weathered places on the ceiling / small bedroom where I lie / paint there cracked and peeling / is my only sky.
— Mike Prim

click here for map of all locations!

I’m sitting outside La Chapina / with my brand new copy of The Empire Strikes Back. / To my left is the skywalk / roofed in yellow scallops. / I hold the book in my hand / just like Han Solo holds Leia’s face. / This is love.
— Sheri Boggs
Look to the east, / the river is rage / and I learn that progress / doesn’t just flow straight one way, / it folds back in on itself / in waves and waves.
— Fitz Fitzpatrick
Rail car lines embedded in the streets / of Browne’s and West Central / end abruptly beneath a slab of asphalt, / a bit of character long since buried.
— Sara Saybo
Headlamps of the midnight train / search the rotting trestles, / the vanished bridges / of Kendall Yards.
— Catherine Grainger
Thinking I can purchase love / with my pennies / I decide on bubble gum.
— Mike Prim
The gas light flickers / as I crest the I-90 grade / over Spokane. As I descend / gold light floods over my city’s skin, / every brick and green-leaf seam.
— Nick Thomas
In his seventies now, he still comes, / fogs up my bay windows marveling at the mechanics / of Christmas, and longs for chocolate malts.
— Carol Dahmen
The city winking, stars start blinking, / the Children of the Sun used to look from here / out onto glorious nothing for miles.
— Caleb Mannan