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‘Celebrating Our Own & Open Mic’ event spotlights 2023 Wick Poetry Center scholarship winners

Courtesy of Director Jessica Jewel
Recipients of 2023 Wick scholarship winners pose after the ceremony.

The five Wick Poetry Center scholarship winners were highlighted at the ‘Celebrating Our Own & Open Mic’ event held at the Wick Poetry Corner in the University Library Wednesday.

Each winner shared their work, followed by an open mic welcoming anyone to read in a poetry celebration.

“Our scholarships at the Wick Poetry Center are the heart of what we do, and why we’re thriving is because of you all,” said David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center.

In 1984, Robert Wick, a sculptor and former art department faculty member at Kent State, and his brother, Walter Wick, founded what is now the Wick Poetry Center in memory of their sons Stan and Tom, who died in car accidents seven years apart, according to Hassler.


Aimée Flores, senior Spanish and psychology major

Flores received the 2023 Thomas and Mimi Freeman Family Endowed Scholarship and read her essay submission.

The annual $1,000 scholarship pays tribute to a remarkable individual, Thomas Michael Freeman, an alum of Kent State University supporting students who share Tom’s passion for nature and his unwavering dedication to helping others.

“I don’t think people realize how much of a privilege it is to write and more importantly to publish anything critical of systemic issues,” Flores said. “[Writing] is my form of solace and my comfort, and it is the way I fight back.”


Sergio Roper, junior psychology major

Roper received the 2023 Maggie Anderson Travel Scholarship and read his poem titled ‘Prime Type Baptism.’

Maggie Anderson is a poet, a professor of English and founding director of the Wick Poetry Center. She created the scholarship following her retirement in 2009. The endowment celebrates the profound influence travel can play in a writer’s life, offsetting the costs of writing workshops, conferences, readings and exchange programs.

“Thank you to the poetry center for always bringing great space to be with other creative people and share creative spirit,” Roper said.


Dorisha Hendrix, KSU and Wick Poetry Center alum

Hendrix received the 2023 Maj Ragain Poetry Scholarship and 2023 Roger J DiPaolo Scholarship and read their poem titled ‘Sweet Summer.’

The annual Maj Ragain scholarship of $1,000 was created in memory of cherished creative writing professor, mentor and local poet Maj Ragain. The annual Roger J DiPaolo scholarship was established by Roger’s family in loving memory of a man who held poetry dear to his heart.

“I love being here and being able to be in this space,” Hendrix said. “I’ve had such a lovely few days full of poetry and love and I love to think of poetry as love. This space is so meant for that.”


Irving Benitez, senior English major

Benitez won the 2023 Stan and Tom Wick Undergraduate Poetry Scholarship and read his poem titled ‘Sextuple And.’

The $1,500 scholarship is gifted in remembrance of Stan and Tom, inviting any Kent State undergraduate student to apply by submitting a single poem to be judged against other applicants.

“Thank you all for coming, I love you all and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” Benitez said. “I wouldn’t be here without all of you.”


Hannah Fender, senior psychology major

Fender won the 2023 Honors College Poetry Contest and read her poem titled ‘South.’

The scholarship awards $1,000 to the best poetry submitted by a Kent State Honors student.

“There’s a lot of pressure to focus on school work and if you don’t have a major that’s necessarily creative or in that creative writing realm, it’s kind of hard to find time or motivation to write,” Fender said. “With this scholarship I was able to find that.”

The event concluded with readings from the recipients and audience members as well.

Lauren Bischof is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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