Wick Poetry Center ‘gives voice’ to local grade students

Aaron Corpora

Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center hosted its 14th annual Giving Voice performance in the Student Center Ballroom on Wednesday night.

The performance, which features original poetry by local students grades 3-12, showcased 54 different poems and was included as part of Kent State President Beverly Warren’s Inauguration Week.

The event started with a welcome from Wick Poetry Center Director David Hassler. Then members of Holden Elementary School’s Writer’s Club read a poem called “The Torch” to Warren. 

Following the reading from the Holden Writer’s Club, Warren responded to their poem with an original work of her own. The president shared her poem “Praise Song for Kent State” in front of the entire audience.

“I think that President Warren built her poem off of meeting them,” said Jessica Jewell, the program manager at Wick Poetry Center. “The Holden Writer’s Club spoke to how she is a new hope for the university and that she gives them encouragement.

“Every year we keep building on the success of the previous year and all of the participants of each year,” Jewell said. “We are absolutely thrilled that the president participated and read an original poem.”

As the first performers of the evening, the members of the Writer’s Club headed back to their school after their performance. But before they left, the president had some kind words for them. 

“The president told them before they left that their words matter,” Jewell said. “When they went home on that bus, they were buzzing.”

As the evening continued, five different schools were represented onstage. The schools came from four different cities surrounding the area, and everyone from individual aspiring poets to groups of students presented their original works one at a time.

Of the five schools that were represented on Thursday night, some new faces were also included in the bunch.

“Longcoy Elementary School was here for the first time tonight,” said Nicole Robinson, the outreach manager for the center. “And of course, there were plenty of new faces as there are new kids every year.”

One of those new faces was third-grader Andy Curtin from Longcoy Elementary School in Kent. 

“There was a lot of people and I was kind of nervous,” Curtin said. “But I thought my reading went not bad and I had fun.”

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected].