Poster Process

Artist Anna Rettberg and Poet Michelle Reed, 2012 Poster Series

The Syracuse Poster Project, founded in 2001, brings together community poets and artists to create an annual series of illustrated poetry posters.

The process begins with a call for poetry. Over the summer, the project solicits haiku and other short, three- to four-line poems. Poets submit work about downtown, the city at large or the nearby countryside, and as of 2024, about historical Central New York characters. Each year, approximately 100 poets participate, each submitting up to three short poems. (Browse the landmarks and locales that have resulted in posters by clicking on the interactive map below.)

From 2001 to 2017, we collaborated with a senior illustration class at Syracuse University, whose students would select and illustrate haiku. In 2018, we broadened our reach by implementing an open call for Central New York artists. Each year approximately 40 artists commit to participating. After screening poems, we allot four poems to each artist. Artists then select and illustrate their preferred poems.

We occasionally supplement the standard posters with a special "reverse process" poster. We commission an artist to create an image. We then publicize the image and invite poets to complement it with a short poem.

In November, we select the best of the traditional and supplemental work for a total of 10 or more posters.

The posters reach the community in four ways:

Through the city’s downtown poster panels. In April, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse posts full-format posters (43 x 62-inches) in the poster panels of Salina and Warren streets. The posters remain on display for a year.

Through the sale of poster prints. These 11 x 17-inch prints are small versions of the full-format posters.

Through a travelling display of posters. We install a travelling flat screen at cafes and other public venues on a monthly basis. The screen features a rotating display of the current year's posters.

Through the installation of permanent poster panels. Now and then we seek out and develop new public venues for poster installations, then raise the money to install permanent poster panels at those locations.

Current Poster Series

Inspiration Map: Search for Posters by the Locations That Inspired Them.