Wick’s Giving Voice reading celebrates local students’ poetry

Students from the “Teaching Poetry in the Schools” course, taught by Charles Malone, perform at the Wick Poetry Center’s annual Giving Voice event Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Maria McGinnis

Children, Kent State students and veterans gathered in the Kent State Student Center Ballroom on Thursday to share their poetry with an audience full of family and friends.

The 18th annual Giving Voice event presented by the Wick Poetry Center joined undergraduates in Kent State’s “Teaching Poetry in the Schools” course with students from local public schools, members of the Veteran’s Writing Circle and clients from Coleman Professional Services to create poetry.

Malone, the program and outreach manager at the Wick Poetry Center, taught the class this semester.

David Hassler, the director of the Wick Poetry Center, opened the event expressing his excitement for the poetry being shared and the audience turnout. 

“This has been one of our most important events of the year,” Hassler said.

Six different groups of creative writers presented their work during the event, including poets from Holden Elementary in Kent, Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts and Theodore Roosevelt High School.

The fourth graders from Miller South were the first group to perform. The students shared poems about their names and the idea that poetry is a living thing in the world around and within them.

Rachel Bishop, a Kent State student and teaching artist at Miller South, introduced a second sea of young readers to the stage and explained the significance of this experience.

“Poetry found me, and it delivered me to this awesome fourth-grade classroom,” Bishop said. “A class that taught me more than I probably taught them.”

The students shared poems about their feelings, bodies, pets that have passed away and where they are from.

The Student Center Ballroom roared with warm laughter and applause at the end of each poem.

Teaching artist Emily Radebaugh introduced students from Crestwood High School in Mantua and expressed how her experience teaching poetry has helped improve her confidence.

“I really enjoyed how our class became a little family. We became open and vulnerable with each other,” Radebaugh said before the event. “Poetry really breaks down barriers. We all have our professor Charlie (Malone) to thank for that. He is incredible.”

Samantha Aguridakis, the final teaching artist of the evening, taught poetry at the Coleman Professional Services and the Veterans Writing Circle and said the experience has been very rewarding.

“I have learned how to become a better writer, and I’ve learned skills to teach other people to improve their writing,” Aguridakis said. “Giving Voice gives us the opportunity to share the work we have been doing throughout the community all semester.”

All the teaching artists gathered on stage to conclude the evening with a finale group poem to answer Malone’s question: “Why poetry?”

The teaching artists shared their love for poetry, followed by a room of applause.

“It has been such a phenomenal experience to watch these kids share their poetry,” Radebaugh said. “They’re all so talented and deserve to share.”

Maria McGinnis covers technology. Contact her at [email protected].