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Office of Economic Development
Office of Economic Development


Berkeley Poetry Walk Receives Downtown Berkeley Association’s President’s Award


Berkeley Poetry Walk Award 

Berkeley, California (Thursday, February 19, 2004) – The City of Berkeley’s Poetry Walk received the Downtown Berkeley Association’s 2003 President’s Award on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2004, for furthering Berkeley's economic development through the arts. 

The Poetry Walk, located along both sidewalks on Addison Street between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street, comprises of 128 panels featuring poetic works by Berkeley versifiers from the Ohlone Indians to present-day poets. 

“The Poetry Walk is an innovative endeavor to improve our Downtown and emblematic of the spirit of Berkeley,” said Phil Kamlarz, Acting City Manager.  “The Poetry Walk provides a window into Berkeley’s literary history as well as our contemporary regard for the arts.” 

Mr. Robert Hass, the former US Poet Laureate and a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, researched, selected, and edited the 128 poems that span the history of Berkeley. 

The cast-iron poetry panels were fabricated using a unique blend of materials.  The poems are silk-screened with a glass porcelain emulsion onto a cast-iron plate.  This plate is then fired in an industrial kiln, which permanently affixes the porcelain text to the iron plate, making a durable surface.  Each panel will patina over time, developing a reddish coat of rust which is designed to complement the pale yellow hue of text.  

This project was made possible by a joint effort between private donors and the Measure S Bond Issue for Downtown renovations.  The private donors along with the citizens of Berkeley are recognized on an “Acknowledgments” plaque installed along the poetry walk.   

Plans are underway to work with Berkeley’s HeyDay Books to produce a published anthology that documents the poetry selected for this project.  A private Berkeley citizen donated funds toward this book in partnership with the Civic Arts Commission. 

The Poetry Walk is a public art project of the City of Berkeley Civic Arts Program in the Office of Economic Development in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission. 

For more information, contact Mary Ann Merker, Civic Arts Coordinator for the City of Berkeley at (510) 981-7533 or via e-mail at



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