The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, home to the award-winning Traveling Stanzas project, is one of the premier university poetry centers in the country. It is a national leader for the range, quality, and innovative outreach in the community.
“Traveling Stanzas is the most luminous interactive poetry site in the wondrous wide world! It honors the voices of the world—all people, all ages. It reminds us why we fell in love with poetry to begin with, it lights up the darkness of which we have plenty, it brilliantly restores the magic of language and hope and connection.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, poet and educator
Traveling Stanzas 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. From the Italian, stanza means a room—a place to pause. Indeed, Traveling Stanzas offers individuals moments of pause, pockets of time, with which to slow down and reflect on their lives, their city, and a shared experience of their community.
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 began as a project that paired poems generated in community writing workshops with graphic designs and disseminated the artwork on public transportation throughout Northeast Ohio. From its inception, Traveling Stanzas has continued to evolve and innovate, finding new ways to bring poetry to people’s everyday lives, facilitating creative and healing conversations nationally and internationally 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.
Traveling Stanzas have been translated into numerous languages, exhibited in locations around the world, including at the March for Science on the National Mall in Washington D.C., at The Universe in Verse reading in Brooklyn, at the Tuscan AngloAmerican Festival in Florence, Italy, a multinational War Memorial in Lyon, France, and a holiday market in Slovakia. Now through a suite of creative tools, in both digital and analog form, as well as a system for viewing and disseminating community voices, Traveling Stanzas offers poetry as a means for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in a deeper and more meaningful conversation with themselves and each other, promoting cross-cultural understanding and empathy.
David Hassler is the author of two books of poems, including Red Kimono, Yellow Barn, for which he was awarded Ohio Poet of the Year 2006. He is the author of several nonfiction books as well, most recently the play, May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970 based on the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project (The Kent State University Press, 2013). With photographer Gary Harwood, he is the author of Growing Season: The Life of a Migrant Community, which received the Ohioana Book Award, the Carter G. Woodson Honor Book Award, and was a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award. He is coeditor of two anthologies by the University of Iowa Press, Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School and After the Bell: Contemporary American Prose about School, as well as A Place to Grow: Voices and Images of Urban Gardeners. He received a BA from Cornell University and an MFA from Bowling Green State University. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Sun, DoubleTake/Points of Entry, Indiana Review, and other journals. He speaks widely at state and national conferences on issues of poetry and education.
Senior Academic Program Director
Jessica Jewell graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English Literature and earned an MFA from Kent State University where she was the Wick Poetry Fellow. She is currently working on her PhD at Kent State, studying Higher Education Administration. Her poetry has appeared in Cider Press Review, American Poetry Journal, Nimrod, Harpur Palate, Copper Nickel, Fjords Review, Rhino, Barn Owl Review, and Poetry Midwest, among others. Her chapbook, Slap Leather, was published by dancing girl press.
Marketing and Public Relations
Györgyi Mihályi-Jewell is a communications and marketing specialist with the Wick Center and International Programs and Education Abroad in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has an MA in Higher Education Administration with an Internationalization certificate from Kent State University as well as BA in English Literature from the University of Szeged and a BA in Business Administration from Kent State University. She is originally from Szeged, Hungary.
Program and Outreach Manager
Charles Malone is a Northeastern Ohio native who earned his BA and MA from Kent State before working on his MFA at Colorado State University. While in Colorado, Charlie taught poetry in the schools with Literacy Through Poetry and served on the staff of the Colorado Review and Matter Journal. In collaboration with Wolverine Farm Publishing, Charlie edited the anthology A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park. His writing has appeared in Salfront, Sugar House Review, Phoebe, Harpur Palate, The Laurel Review, Boneshaker, and Permafrost.
Sony Ton-Aime is the current fellow at the Wick Poetry Center. He is a Kent State University MFA Poetry candidate. He is in my second year. During his last semester as an undergraduate, he did an internship with the Wick Poetry Center and fell in love with writing. He earned his bachelor degrees in Accounting in 2014 before he went back to Haiti, his home country, where he spent 18 months working as an accountant and writing poems. Now, when he is not writing and teaching in the community, he is videotaping his landlord, Ted Lyons, for his upcoming documentary Ted Talks. He enjoys photography and Haitian food.
Regis Coustillac is a Teaching Artist at the Wick Poetry Center and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from Kent State University in December 2017. Regis has led poetry workshops with a variety of groups, including both children and adults from immigrant and refugee groups.
Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center is incredibly grateful to the following donors for their continued support of Traveling Stanzas.
Donald and Sue Hassler
Toomas and Paula Tubalkain
Ms. Therese Broderick
Heather and Ralph Wicks
Ralph and Judy Kletzien
Jerry and Jenelle Feezel
The Madey Family
George and Julie Dietz
Elliot Figman & Ella Jolly
Margaret Van Dyke
Our expert staff and teaching artists offer workshops and creative programs in locations across the country.
Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.