Wick Poetry Center Celebrates 25 Years, Encourages New Voice
The Wick Poetry Center, which is celebrating 25 years, has been a driving force at Kent State University since 1984. But according to a book titled "A Gathering of Poets," co-authored by The Wick Poetry Center’s Director Maggie Anderson, Kent State has enjoyed visiting poets as far back as 1937, when the great William Butler Yates read on the Kent Campus. Also in 1945 Robert Frost dropped by, followed by Langston Hughes in 1947. With such a rich literary history, Wick continues encouraging new writers to find their voice.
With 42 published chapbooks and countless students who have passed through its office doors, The Wick Poetry Center’s programs have enriched and brightened the lives of students at Kent State University and writers in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
"I think that the number of projects, like events and book publications, we are associated with makes Kent State a strong advocate for the arts in the United States," Anderson says.
Anderson says poetry is a cultural, educational and community event. Open poetry readings, panels, returning poets and authors, workshops and outreach programs provided by Wick give the university community a taste of the arts and hope to inspire new writers, or experienced ones, in crafting creative work. Every month this semester, the poetry center has hosted events in hope to not only bring poetry to the ears of new fans, but also to honor the poets Kent State has worked with in the past.
"One of the great pleasures of my work at Wick is to guide Kent State students every spring semester to teach poetry workshops in area schools, senior centers and after-school programs," David Hassler, program and outreach director, says. "I get to share in my students' discoveries and find new ways, myself, to inspire others to engage in the joy of reading and writing poetry."
Wick continues to provide the students at Kent State with talks from returning poets, such as Mary Weems and her February talk titled "Racism Matters." Talks such as these provide the university with a diverse and artistic sensibility that make Kent State a unique institution in Northeast Ohio.
Alice Cone, Kent State instructor and Wick Poetry Anniversary specialist, says that when her students see living authors who are doing the same thing they are doing, they feel inspired.
"There is a need to articulate who we are, what we are and what we are doing, and established poets are trying to answer this need just as the students are. Whether they’ve become teachers, authors or pursued other careers, alumni who have returned to campus this year affirmed that writing poetry is still a vital part of their lives," says Cone.
April is the most important month for the Wick Poetry Center. The official 25th anniversary celebration will include the yearly celebration of Giving Voice, which will be held April 23 at 7 p.m., in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The Anniversary events continue at 10:45 a.m. Friday, April 24, with a panel titled "Outreach in the Community" in the Kent Student Center in Room 306 and a 1 p.m. slide show and talk with Director Maggie Anderson, also in Room 306. At 6 p.m. there will be a 25th Anniversary Potluck Dinner and Program at the United Church of Christ of Kent, 1400 E. Main St., Van Meter Hall. The celebration will conclude Saturday, April 25, at noon with an open poetry reading at Woodsy’s Performance Center in downtown Kent.
Giving Voice is the culmination of work done in the Wick Poetry Center’s program, "Teaching Poetry in the Schools," which takes Kent State students off campus and into local classrooms using poetry to nurture the creativity of children and seniors.
"Robert Bly once said that a poem is not completed until it is heard," Hassler says. "By staging our culminating performance, Giving Voice, every spring, featuring original poems and songs by area students, teachers and seniors, we provide a rich opportunity for new voices, of all ages, to be heard in the community."
Anniversary events will also focus on how Robert and Walter Wick, whose sons Stan and Tom are the namesakes of the Wick Poetry Center, worked to give aspiring writers a place where they could find their voice. This is also noteworthy because the Wick brothers will receive the University Medallion in May for their contribution to the Kent State University community.
"I am truly honored, and I greatly respect the quality of education at Kent State University," Robert Wick says.
Wick says he feels wonderful about the program and its impact on the community.
"Maggie Anderson and David Hassler are great teachers and poets, and the program has expanded far beyond what my brother and I had ever anticipated," Wick says. "It gives young writers a chance to take advantage of the opportunities around them."
For more information, please visit www.kent.edu/wick. To R.S.V.P for the potluck dinner, call 330-672-2067.
By Doug Sheldon, English intern