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Kent State Poetry Project Highlights Peace Themes

Posted Apr. 21, 2010

As Kent State University prepares for the 40th commemoration of the events of May 4, 1970, the university’s Wick Poetry Center is promoting peace and reconciliation through an innovative community collaboration.

Peace Stanzas What I WantPeace Stanzas is the latest edition of the ongoing Traveling Stanzas community arts project, a collaboration between Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center and the student-run Glyphix design studio. It combines the creative talents of Kent State Visual Communication Design students with original poems by area student writers, grades 3-12, to promote awareness of poetry and graphic design within the community.

Eight of the 10 Peace Stanzas poems were created in Wick-sponsored writing workshops led by Kent State undergraduate students. The other two poems were written by adult published poets, Naomi Shihab Nye and Edward Tick. Tick has counseled and actively supported U.S. veterans since the Vietnam era. He is co-director with his wife Kate Dahlstedt of the non-profit Soldier’s Heart organization, founded to provide a safety net for veterans returning from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. He is author of the book “War and the Soul.”

Peace Stanzas gives voice to area student writers around the theme of peace by displaying posters in the interiors of Northeast Ohio area buses and transit systems, and in area businesses, libraries and classrooms. Valora Renicker, creative director of Glyphix and assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Visual Communication and Design, initiated the project with David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center.

“This project brings together the voices of children, seniors, teachers and established poets,” Hassler said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to expose poetry to those who might not normally encounter it. With the 40th anniversary of the May 4 tragedy coming up, the themes of peace and reconciliation are especially relevant.” 

Peace Stanzas posters are currently on display in the Akron METRO and the Portage County PARTA systems, and in the Starbucks in Kent. Large banners of the designs will be on display in the Kent Student Center from late April through the May 4 events.  Full-sized posters and blank greeting cards of the designs are available for purchase at the Traveling Stanzas Web site, www.travelingstanzas.com. All proceeds from the sale of the posters and greeting cards support future editions and student scholarship.

“The Traveling Stanzas project, started in 2008, was inspired by similar initiatives around the world,” Renicker said.  London's “Poems on the Underground” program began in subway cars in 1986. In 1992, the New York City transit system followed London's lead and launched “Poetry in Motion.” Since then, other cities across the country have embraced the concept of poetry in mass transit.  Renicker worked with the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority on a similar effort a few years ago.

New this semester, Glyphix student designers are developing animated Peace Stanzas e-greetings with music and audio recordings of student and adult readers from the community. Kent musician Hal Walker created instrumental audio for some of the animated poems. The animated e-greetings can be easily shared on the Internet for distribution worldwide. Links from the Traveling Stanzas Web site for the animations will take viewers to Vimeo.com. The initial animation for "Ode to Joy" can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/9863287.

Kent State’s TeleProductions department is developing a Peace Stanzas multi-media video which will be released for the May 4 events. “Kent State students working in TeleProductions and Glyphix had the opportunity to collaborate on the video, making the entire project a cross-media learning experience,” Renicker added.

Peace Stanzas posters will be on display in the Rhodes State Office Tower in Columbus this fall and at the International Peace and War Summit to be held October 25-29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“As Kent State celebrates its centennial in 2010, our students continue to play an active role in projects that highlight the creative excellence at the university and offer us new ways to re-frame our future by reflecting on our past,” Hassler said.

The major sponsor of Peace Stanzas is the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University.  Other sponsors include the Poetry Foundation, the Burbick Foundation, Kent State University Libraries, DCI Color Imaging and Oliver Printing Company. 

For more information on Peace Stanzas and the Traveling Stanzas project, visit www.travelingstanzas.com or contact David Hassler at dhassle1@kent.edu or 330-672-1769.

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Media Contacts:
David Hassler, dhassle1@kent.edu, 330-672-1769
Valora Renicker, vrenicke@kent.edu, 330-672-2854
Bob Burford, rburford@kent.edu, 330-672-8516


Peace Stanzas Contributors

What I Want
Poem by Shauna Oldaker
7th Grade, Miller South School, Akron, Ohio
Design by Andy Hendricks

My Voice
Poem by Lori Galambos’ 4th grade class
Miller South School, Akron, Ohio
Design by Ruth Turner

The Poem in the Time of War
Poem by Mark Jamison’s 11th grade class
Coventry High School, Akron, Ohio
Design by Christopher Seeds

Ode to My Body
Poem by Scott Parsons’ 12th grade class
Maplewood Career Center, Ravenna, Ohio
Design by Erin Stearns

Nature
Poem by 3rd grade students
Walls Elementary School, Kent, Ohio
Design by Jake Kellogg

Lullaby
Poem by Edward Tick
From “The Golden Tortoise: Journeys in Viet Nam”
Design by Jameson Campbell

With All These Moments
Poem by Campbell Budzar
Holden Elementary School, Kent, Ohio
Design by Joanna Chiu

Ode To Joy
Poem by Kate Walley’s 3rd grade class
Seville Intermediate School, Seville, Ohio
Design by Josh Kruszynski

Flags Are Flying
Poem by Jo Steinhurst, age 86
Judson Manor, Cleveland, Ohio
Design by Katie Barnes

During A War
Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
From “You and Yours”
Design by Branden Vondrak


All designers are from Kent State University’s School of Visual Communication and Design.