Creative minds put poetry in motion

Pamela Crimbchin

Eric Celedonia, senior visual communications and design major, stands next to a traveling stanza he created to showcase a poem titled “Gold,” written by Holden Elementary student Campbell Budzar. The stanza is located in Starbucks on the corner of Lincoln

Credit: DKS Editors

A poem can speak to generations. An illustration is timeless. When combined, the creative capabilities are endless.

Glyphix Design Studio and the Wick Poetry Center’s outreach program, which extends to different groups including elementary students, worked together to bring Portage County eight “Traveling Stanzas,” which will be displayed on Akron METRO and PARTA buses, as well as businesses in downtown Kent and Ravenna.

“It’s the kind of collaboration that is sort of one plus one equals three,” David Hassler, director of Wick Poetry Center said. “. When you create those kinds of collaboration, the result can be far greater than the sum of the parts.”

Valora Renicker, creative director of Glyphix, proposed the idea of combining youth poetry written in the Wick outreach program with illustrations provided by senior visual communication design majors interning at Glyphix.

“It not only shows that the university looks for these opportunities, but it also shows the willingness of students to get involved in the community even though they don’t probably live here all the time,” said Jason Bacher, senior visual communication and design major.

The idea of poetry in transportation was started with New York City’s “Poetry in Motion” project.

Hassler said combining the two Kent State programs was a “dream collaboration.”

The Wick Poetry Center’s outreach program worked with young students in their workshops to come up with poems that could be illustrated by the Glyphix interns. Hassler selected eight poems and worked with the youth to edit them.

“It’s entirely their work, but in some cases we have shortened the poems to make them fit on the stanza,” Hassler said.

Hassler said they wanted the poems and illustrations to be ready for display at the eighth annual “Gift of Giving Voice” in April and the 25th anniversary of the Wick Poetry Center, so interns at Glyphix weren’t given a chance to speak with the authors before they began illustration.

“We only had about a week to do it,” said Shawn Ritzenthaler, senior visual communication and design major. “We met with Hassler and he got us excited about it, then we read all the poems and just kind of randomly did it.”

Ritzenthaler illustrated a poem that was written by Susan Louis’ third-grade class at Holden Elementary. The poem was called “Poetry Lives” and Ritzenthaler said he chose to focus on the last line of the poem while illustrating: “Poetry lives in a lucky No. 2 pencil, getting older by the word.”

Ritzenthaler drew a young boy watching No. 2 pencils disguised as bumble bees flying around a nest.

Elma Gildenhuys, senior visual communication and design major, worked with Gavin Van Winkle-Bright, a student at Miller South School for the Performing Arts in Akron, to illustrate a poem she described as “very Shakespearian.”

“I never actually got to meet (Winkle-Bright) unfortunately,” Gildenhuys said. “But I think his name and poem said it all.”

Not being able to discuss the poems with their authors gave the Kent State students a great deal of freedom in how to interpret the poems.

Gildenhuys said she took Van Winkle-Bright’s poem, “My Own Little World,” to be about “the length he’d go to for the sake of his love.”

Eric Celedonia, senior visual communication and design major, said the poem he illustrated, “Gold,” written by Campbell Budzar, was “vague in a good way.”

“Hassler actually had trouble explaining to me what it was about, so it was kind of an open-ended interpretation of just gold,” Celedonia said.

At first, some of the Glyphix interns thought because children wrote the poems, they would be less complex; however, many of the poems dealt with complicated issues and images.

“The poems were extremely well put together,” said Celedonia. ” . You would never know they were childrens’ poems.”

Bacher worked with brothers, Amil and Amir Stikes-Jenkins, who wrote their poem about souls.

“These boys spent so much time crafting such a great poem that I felt it was a challenge on me to make sure that I looked at my end of the bargain and created an illustration or design that worked well with the idea that they were portraying,” Bacher said.

Hassler said he was not surprised at the sophistication of the poems.

“I always believe that we are all capable at any age, whether we are working with young children or senior adults, to tap into what Robert Bly calls ‘leaping thought’ as a definition of poetry,” he said.

The poems’ topics were not centralized around one idea. However, this fall, Glyphix and Wick Poetry Center will work together again to produce poems around the idea of peace and reconciliation.

Ten traveling stanzas will be produced in the fall and 10 more in the spring, so that 20 different stanzas will be traveling around the Kent area in time for the 40th anniversary of May 4,1970.

“When people come back for the . commemorations, for the May 4th shootings, they will see these peace stanzas all over town and hopefully on campus as well,” Hassler said.

Hassler said authors and designers will be more collaborative in the process this time.

“We will have some of the Glyphix design students actually come and participate in some of the workshops so they can see how the poems were created before they design them,” Hassler said.

Kent State visual communication and design students and Hassler said they were very pleased with the final result of the spring collaboration and their displays throughout the community.

“(People) could have an ‘ah-ha’ moment while reading these stanzas that show a little pocket of wisdom or pocket of beauty, in the way the thought and memories are phrased that are very potent,” Hassler said. “. We can carry these stanzas with us for the rest of the day or for many days.”

All the traveling stanzas are currently on display at Starbucks at the corner of South Lincoln and Main streets.

Contact features reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].