Wick Poetry Center gathers international community to share poetry

Megan Shovestull

Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center held its fourth annual World Poetry Reading on Wednesday. The evening was filled with international students, professors and faculty sharing poems in their native language and then in English.

David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, opened the reading by reminding the audience why they hold this particular reading annually as our cultural barriers seem more evident.

“We need this more than ever these days,” Hassler said.

He turned over to Jennifer Kulics, associate vice president and dean of students, to introduce the reading event.

“The world needs a little more kindness,” Kulics said as she reminded the audience how Tuesday was World Kindness Day.

Sara Morato, a graduate student from Bolivia, opened the night with a Spanish poem called “Te debo tango, amor,” which translates to “I owe you so much, my love.” “It just spoke to me as I was searching what to read,” Morato said.

PooYan Mirjalili, a senior from Iran, read a poem called, “The Children of Adam.”“This poem, it means a lot to me. The general idea of this poem is to remove human barriers,” Mirjalili said.

Several other students and faculty continued to read poems from their native countries. The countries featured through poetry were Germany, Nigeria, Rwanda, Taiwan, Oman, Pakistan, Hungary, India, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon and Kazakhstan.

Nicholas Muoh, a business analytics graduate student from Nigeria, read a folk song called “Otuto Ugo,” which is translated to “Ode to an Eagle.” Muoh told the audience that the eagle is incredibly significant to Nigerian culture and is a “revered animal.”

He felt this was an amazing parallel as the U.S. also regards eagles with high esteem. “Our societies, 10,000 miles apart can share and revere the eagle,” Muoh said.

H. Baté Agbor-Baiyee is the program coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Leadership. Agbor-Baiyee is from Cameroon, Africa, and he wrote his own poem about how much he loved and was proud of Africa. He also said this poem was important because Africa is typically viewed as poor and a place that people shouldn’t travel to. He said all of that was untrue.

Agbor-Baiyee’s poem is called “Etangti Afrika; nka ka!” This is translated as “Reverance to a Tall Proud Africa!” Throughout the poem he references the beauty of Africa and its powerful history dating back to the first humans.

He also told the audience that the hard copy of his poem they received was probably different than what they heard. “Every time I read it, I change it a little bit,” he said

The reading concluded with an African dance performance from Kent State’s Barefoot Dance Tribe.

Megan Shovestull is the humanities reporter. Contact her at [email protected].