Wick Poetry Center debuts Healing Stanzas

Kelly Tunney

The Wick Poetry Center is bringing the medical world and the literary world together through its Healing Stanzas.

These 10 Healing Stanzas are the center’s latest set of Traveling Stanzas. Students and teachers in medical centers wrote the poems, which were then paired with images from Kent State’s Glyphix Studio and displayed in transportation systems, classrooms and local businesses around northeast Ohio.

They are also available for purchase online in the form of greeting cards and posters.

Nicole Robinson, program coordinator for the Wick Center, said the theme of healing came about as a result of making the Peace Stanzas last year.

“Last year, the Peace Stanzas were partially in memory of the May 4 tragedy,” she said. “And along with peace comes reconciliation, and we thought healing went along well with that.”

The Wick Center held workshops with students and doctors at medical organizations including Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Summa Health System. They added a medical perspective of healing, Robinson said.

“Poetry kind of allows to open this space in the busy lives of doctors and nurses for them to enter and talk about their daily lives and activities, which can sometimes be heavy,” Robinson said. “Poetry allows for their voices to be heard.”

David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, picked Rita Schlanger’s poem “Mostly” to be featured in the Healing Stanzas collection after he visited one of her medical classes to do poetry-writing exercises.

Schlanger, a second-year student at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, said through the experience she learned to see healing in a new way.

“David came in to help us get in touch with a different side of medicine,” she said. “So not the basic biology and physiology that we learn every day, but a different approach to medicine.”

The Wick Center also conducted workshops at several high schools, including Maplewood Career Center, where Scott Parson’s senior class wrote the poem “Dear Life.”

Parsons said that through the poem, his students were able to take life’s hardships and make them into healing experiences.

“My favorite part about the poem is that it communicates the whole idea that in order to really accept life, which is a challenge, you have to be able to accept the hard parts of it,” he said. “All the grief and pain and sorrow and what not.”

Ian McCullough, senior visual communication design major and Glyphix student, designed the image for the poem “Healing Hands,” written by the Palliative Care Team at Summa Health System.

McCullough said he could easily create the accompanying image because the concept of healing is general.

“I think with the Healing Stanzas what was so interesting about it was the whole term and definition of healing was kind of broad,” he said. “So it could be anything from a physical level to an emotional level.”

The stanzas may be purchased online at the Traveling Stanzas’ website for $10 per poster and $10 per set of 10 greeting cards.

The Poetry Foundation is sponsoring the Healing Stanzas.

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].