The City of Sparks is inviting the public to submit their original unpublished poetry to help decorate the pet memorial project planned to be placed next to the dog park at the Sparks Marina. The memorial will feature a grid placed in front of a barrier where people can attach dog tags to honor their passed four-legged friends. Along with the fence, the community is welcome to submit a poem to be etched in steel alongside the memorial. All poems will then be reviewed by a panel and the top three selections will go out for public comment.
The city is hoping to replace the loose boulder-type barrier with a concrete wall up to 20 feet long, but it all depends on how much can be raised with grants and allocated through the budget.
The idea for the Pet Memorial was originated about a month ago when the city’s engineering team was out replacing the wall and City of Sparks Special Events Supervisor Francine Burge saw an opportunity to build something that could lead to further engagement with the community.
“I got inspired by the concept when I was running on the Ditch Trail and I noticed that someone hung a dog collar on the fence,” she says. Knowing how popular the fence of locks are in Lovelock and at the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, Burge thought this would be a fun way to remember Sparks’ loved pets. “This give people a way to continue interaction with the (Sparks Marina) as well,” she adds.
The call for poems competition officially opens on April 1 and is available to those living in the State of Nevada and/or those who live within 150 miles of Sparks. Poems that will be considered for the memorial include sonnets, cinquains, sestinas, tankas, and villanelles reflecting the relationship the owner had with the lost pet, and they should be limited to less than 25 lines and/or 150 words or less in order to fit on the steel structure.
Participants will have two months to submit their original literary pieces, with the deadline being May 31. The City is awarding a $1,500 cash prize to the first-place poem, $200 for second place, and $100 for third. The final poems will then go out for public voting throughout the summer, June 10-August 9, and the winner will be announced at the Sept. 9 Sparks City Council meeting.
Burge adds that Cheryl Hare has been instrumental in making this project happen by working on getting sponsorships and artists to help fund this community-wide public art installation. For more information about entering the Pet Memorial Open Call for Poems, visit https://cityofsparks.us/resources/resource/open-call-for-poems-pet-memorial-project/.