From early January through the end of April, the Library will be projecting poems on sidewalk squares at night. The Library will project two poems at a time, primarily in the downtown area, as well as one poem at the entrance to the Library. Locations and poems will change weekly. Poems will be projected multiple times during the week on a schedule that is dependent on good weather conditions.

Similar to Poems on the Underground, a program initiated on London’s Tube trains in 1986, which renewed huge interest in poetry and cut across demographic boundaries, Poetry Illuminated will display poems in outdoor locations where people will happen upon them inadvertently (in this case public sidewalks) without hype or a social media campaign.

The Library reached out to approximately two dozen poets (including former U.S. Poet Laureates) who have been featured at the Mill Valley Public Library for suggestions for the project. Poets were asked to select poems that would appeal to people who don’t necessarily like poetry in the hopes that they may become more interested in the medium.

The Library followed up with many of the poets for help in curating a final selection that would range widely, and represent different epochs, styles, schools and cultures. Selection was also dependent on obtaining copyright permission to project any poems not in the public domain.

We hope these sidewalk encounters will tap into our natural joy in language, in unusual twists of expression and thought. If you have questions or comments about the project we would love to hear from you. Please email City Librarian Anji Brenner at:

Many thanks to the Smart Family Fund for making this program possible.