Spring semester culminates in poetry readings

Maureen Nagg

Students Joseph Winnicki and Jacob Kaus from Cloverleaf Elementary School in Seville read the poem “If I Were…” last night in the auditorium.

Credit: Andrew popik

Faculty, students and community members came together yesterday for the Wick Poetry Center’s fourth annual “Giving Voice” performance in the University Auditorium.

“This is one of the real highlights of our year,” said Maggie Anderson, director of the Wick Poetry Center. “It brings everyone together to share all they have worked on during the past six weeks.”

The performance was a culmination of a semester-long course that sends Kent State students into area schools and senior centers to teach poetry. The course is called “Teaching Poetry in the Schools.”

“It’s like a great big family wedding rehearsal,” said David Hassler, the Wick Poetry Center’s outreach and program director and teacher of the “Teaching Poetry in the Schools” course. “We have never actually come together to practice for this, but somehow when we all share our passion, it all seems to come together.”

The students and seniors featured in the performance recited poetry and sang songs they wrote throughout the past six weeks while working with the Kent State students.

Music during the performance was performed and written by Hal Walker of Young Audiences and Ohio Arts Council and artist-in-residence.

Deb Jesiolowski’s daughter is a fourth grader at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts and read her poem during the performance. Jesiolowski said the program is fantastic and her daughter loves working with the university students.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our children,” she said. “To expose them to poetry and allow them to express themselves and perform in front of people other than their classmates is amazing.”

Not all the students participating in the program were able to perform their poetry. The teachers, student-teachers and Hassler chose the poems they thought were the strongest to be performed, said Dane Minich, a senior English major and student in the Wick course.

The Wick program currently teaches in 14 classrooms and one senior center in Kent, Ravenna and Akron.

“This program gives students a sense that what they are learning isn’t just in the classroom,” Anderson said. “Poetry can be vital to people’s everyday lives.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Maureen Nagg at [email protected].