Final Wick Poetry Series event showcases local students

Christina Stafford

More than 200 parents and students gathered in the Ballroom of the Student Center last night for the final reading of the Wick Poetry Series this semester to hear students from six local elementary, middle and high schools read their original poetry.

The event began with musician Hal Walker playing the guitar and singing his own, “I Have a Song.” The song is a way to get everyone involved in the poetry. The students sang the refrain, and at the end of the night, the audience was invited to join in.

David Hassler, the program and outreach director of the Wick Poetry Center, instructs a teaching poetry in schools class at Kent State. As part of the class, students go out to local schools and teach poetry.

“We learn all the techniques in the class from David, who has been teaching poetry for 15 years,” said Marianne Jackson, a former student of Hassler’s class and outreach assistant of the Wick Poetry Center.

The students from area schools are then invited to take part in the Giving Voice: A Reading by Students from Area Schools. Jackson said anyone who can come to the presentation is allowed to participate. To include the students unable to attend, each class read a group poem that took lines from everyone in the class to make one collective poem.

Many students sang and danced as well as read poetry. Two of the poems were read with step dancers and modern dancers dancing in the background.

Walker also accompanied many of the poems with piano, harmonica and accordion music.

Students from Choices High School in Canton will go to a local elementary school to teach the younger children poetry. Maggie Anderson, director of the Wick Poetry Center, said passing on poetry is what the center is all about.

“You learn how to write your own poetry,” she said. “And then you have a passion for it and you want other people to write it. Poetry lifts your self esteem right up off the floor and onto the paper. Poetry is for everyone.”

Chris Wick, brother of Stan and Tom Wick whom the Wick Poetry Center is named after, came from Arizona to see the students perform and keep the ties between the Wick Poetry Center and the Wick family.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Christina Stafford at [email protected].