aroundkent Magazine Vol 13 2017

Page 44

T R A V E L I N G S T A N Z A S Poetry is the means by which a place comes to know itself. And in Kent, Ohio the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas project is giving voice to our town and our region.

David Hassler

Launched in 2009 as a collaboration between Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and Professor Valora Renicker’s Visual Communication Design students, Traveling Stanzas pairs poems generated in community writing workshops with graphic designs and disseminates these posters on public transportation throughout Northeast Ohio. Since 2009, Traveling Stanzas has continued to innovate and find new ways to bring poetry to people’s everyday lives, promoting the power of poetry through multi-modal public installations and through its interactive website. The Traveling Stanzas project is born from the belief that poetry is for the people. We turn to poetry to give voice to what is troubling us, to honor what we love, to make sense of our lives, to remember our past, and to commemorate what we’ve lost. The word “stanza,” from Italian, literally means “a small waiting room in a train station.” Indeed, Traveling Stanzas offers people

volume 13 | 2017 •


moments of pause, pockets of time, with which to slow down and reflect on their lives, their communities, and to participate in a shared creative experience. Through evolving innovative methods and digital platforms, Traveling Stanzas is facilitating creative and healing conversations in such sectors of our communities as education, healthcare, literacy centers, libraries, national parks, museums, social service agencies for refugee and immigrant populations, senior centers, and veteran’s organizations. This past fall, in partnership with the City of Kent, Main Street Kent, and Each + Every design studio, the Wick Poetry Center brought Traveling Stanzas to electrical utility boxes throughout downtown. Seven utility boxes have been covered with Traveling Stanzas poems, written by local schoolchildren and adults, and paired with beautiful illustrations. By pushing an easily accessible audio button housed in

An electrical utility box in downtown Kent featuring Dear Monarch by Mrs. Vesia’s Preschool Class. Design by Alison Farone.