Pedestrians walk along East Congress Street where Herbert Avenue once crossed the intersection in downtown Tucson on May 21, 2018.

To celebrate spring, the Downtown Tucson Partnership wants to decorate Congress Street with poetry. 

The downtown organization is partnering with the University of Arizona Poetry Center to host the first Old Pueblo Poems literary competition.

Write a haiku about "Life in the City" and submit it by Monday, Feb. 25. Twenty winning haikus chosen by Tucson's poet laureate TC Tolbert will be displayed along Congress Street through the spring months. Winners will also get a $25 downtown Tucson gift card. 

"I love having poetry available in public spaces," says Tyler Meier, the executive director of the UA Poetry Center. "It often provides an opportunity for someone that maybe they didn't even know they wanted. It can be a chance for reflection ... or it might remind you of something that happened years ago." 

Haikus are a Japanese form of poetry with 17 syllables — five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five in the third. It's a very accessible style of poetry, Meier says. 

Kathleen Eriksen, the CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, says the idea for a Tucson poetry contest came from a similar haiku competition in Washington, D.C. 

"I think it adds color to the community, not only in a visual way, but also a cultural way," Eriksen says. "It provides this opportunity to be creative and really embrace the city and then display it for everyone to see." 

You can submit up to three haikus about life in Tucson, especially in the spring — human life, plant life, critter life. Get creative. 

The winning poems will go up downtown around March 21. Eriksen says a plan is in the works to showcase the newly installed public art with a walking tour, poetry reading hybrid. 

"Art gives people a chance to feel connected to others who they don't know, and in doing so, it's an exciting way to imagine how the community thinks of itself and operates," Meier says. 

You can learn more and submit your haikus by going to

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