Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Reading brings community together

Emma Keating

The Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize reading brought the Kent community together Wednesday to share a love for poetry.

The prize is given out annually to a starting poet whose works have never been published, and includes publication of the poet’s first full-length book of poetry by the Kent State University Press.

Leah Osowski, a Massachusetts writer who won the 2015 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, read to the audience from her winning book “Hover Over Her.”

Osowski’s book features a collection of poems describing her experiences growing up while experiencing shyness.

“(Shyness) held me back from doing things I’ve wanted to do,” Osowski said. “As I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin I’ve reflected back upon that a lot, and that comes out in my writing.”

Osowski referenced Emily Dickinson as a source for inspiration, and used one of Dickinson’s quotes to describe why she enjoys poetry.

“It goes like, ‘I know that I’m hearing poetry when it feels like the top of my head has come off,’” she said. “There’s something electrifying for me.”

Osowski also said she appreciated the conciseness and simplicity of poetry.

“It needs to be a moment of epiphany in not many words,” she said. “I think it’s exciting when you boil something down to that.”

Adrian Matejka, a poet whose most recent book has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, selected Osowski from the list of finalists.

“Leah’s was the second one (I read),” he said. “I knew from the moment I read it that it was going to be the final one.”

Matejka said that he looks for poetry that catches him off guard, and that Osowski has mastered the art.

“She’s just got gorgeous language and the way she imagines the poem to work is really surprising,” he said. “All I want is a poem that surprises me and sounds good and makes me feel something.”

Matejka is currently teaching literature and creative writing at Indiana University. Part of his teaching is the contrast between rap and poetry.

“I couldn’t rap,” he said, explaining why he chose to go into poetry. “I was a really bad rapper so I was like, this doesn’t work but I really like words.”

Isaiah Hunt, a sophomore English major and student assistant for the Wick Poetry Center, said that he hopes to get more involved in poetry by going to readings.

“It’s really fascinating to see all the people who show up to these events,” he said. “You can’t pinpoint a poet. It’s a very diverse crowd.”

Max Nobis, a senior English major interning with the Wick Poetry Center this semester, said that he is going to miss working with the (literature) community.

“I’m (a) part of a community rich with culture and really in touch with humanity,” Nobis said. “That’s exciting.”

Contact Emma Keating at [email protected].