'Flowerpot Poetry Walk' set for this summer in downtown Detroit Lakes

Fresh off the success of Detroit Lakes' first-ever 'Polar-try Poetry Walk,' held during Polar Fest 2022, mother-daughter duo Mary Beth and Kendra Gilsdorf are planning a summer poetry walk — with poetry submissions to be printed and displayed in the colorful downtown flower pots, next to all the fresh blooms. Submissions for the Flowerpot Poetry Walk are being accepted through Monday, May 30.

The large pots of flowers that dot the landscape of downtown Detroit Lakes during the summer months will soon be home to artistic panels containing original works of poetry submitted by local residents.
The large pots of flowers that dot the landscape of downtown Detroit Lakes during the summer months will soon be home to artistic panels containing original works of poetry submitted by local residents.
Detroit Lakes Tribune File photo
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DETROIT LAKES — With 20 poetry submissions displayed atop ice sculptures scattered throughout Detroit Lakes' City Park, the inaugural 'Polar-try Poetry Walk' added an innovative bit of artistry to this year's Polar Fest — and now, the organizers of that are planning a summer poetry walk, as well.

The "Flowerpot Poetry Walk" is so named because the submissions will be displayed as part of the flowerpots that add splashes of color throughout downtown Detroit Lakes during the summer months, says Mary Beth Gilsdorf, who is the principal organizer behind the new event.

Polartry Walk.JPG
The selected poems for the inaugural "Flowerpot Poetry Walk" will be displayed on 8x12-inch Alumacor panels, much as the poems selected for the "Polar-try Poetry Walk" held during Polar Fest 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I talked to Patty LaBarre (who arranges the flowerpot distribution for downtown beautification each summer), and she was very open to the idea," said Gilsdorf.

A total of 20 poems will be chosen through a juried selection process, she added.

"I think 20 was a good number last time," Gilsdorf said. "We would love to do more, but we're trying to start small and keep it manageable and hopefully keep growing over the years."


The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 30 — Memorial Day — and much like they were for "Polar-try," the selected poems will be printed on Alumacor panels with the help of Trophy House.

"My goal is to get them proofed the first week in June, get them printed, and hopefully have them out by the Summer Solstice (June 21)," Gilsdorf said.

The plan is for the poetry walk to begin in downtown Detroit Lakes and lead down to the City Beach and Pavilion, she added.

"I’m excited," Gilsdorf said. "There should be a lot more people out and about, generating more questions and interest that could feed into the Polar-try walk, as well, to get it bigger and expand it to different areas. I think it’s kind of a fun, cool thing — some very subtle art that we can work into our everyday environment."

Guidelines for submission

Though there is a lot of freedom allowed for poetry submissions, a few guidelines have been established, as follows:

  • Each person can submit up to three original poems.
  • Poem structure must be a maximum of 40 characters per line, up to 18 lines (so they will fit on the panels).
  • Poems can be in any form — haiku, rhyme, free form, etc., and use any topic so long as it is family-friendly.
  • Poet will retain all rights to their work.
  • Submissions must include name, address, email, title and complete text of poem, formatted as you want it printed.

Submissions may be emailed to , which is also the contact point for more information.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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