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Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center Creates Science Stanzas, Participates in Inaugural March for Science
The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, in the College of Arts and Sciences, has driven innovation and generated national distinction for over three decades through its award-winning Traveling Stanzas project, which brings poetry to people’s everyday lives in communities around the world.
At the inaugural March for Science, a global demonstration centered in Washington, D.C., a special edition of Traveling Stanzas titled Science Stanzas will provide an opportunity for participants to discover the intersection of expressive writing and scientific inquiry.
On April 22, demonstrators around the world will participate in a March for Science in a call to support and safeguard the scientific community, fact-based decision-making, basic research and freedom of speech for scientists. Partnering with poet and environmental spokesperson Jane Hirshfield, the Wick Poetry Center will join the marchers at the Teach-In on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Wick Poetry Center staff will lead visitors in a poetry-writing exercise to creatively engage with seminal scientific writing. Participants will have the opportunity to share their poem on the website science.travelingstanzas.com and on social media using #PoetsForScience.
“We have received so many responses from people around the country telling us that this effort resonates with them and strikes a chord,” said David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center. “Our Kent State College of Arts and Sciences dean, Dr. Jim Blank, is a neurobiologist and a big supporter of the Wick Poetry Center’s efforts to work alongside the sciences in our college.
“At a time when funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health are under scrutiny, I believe it’s important to create spaces for dialogue between these different disciplines. In his ‘Democratic Vistas,’ Walt Whitman urged American poets to be informed of and inspired by science. Both science and literature require similar forms of imagination and leaps of thought. As Jane Hirshfield says, ‘Poetry and science are allies, not opposites.’ Through our #PoetsForScience initiative and Traveling Stanzas at the March for Science, we hope to facilitate a larger public conversation between science and the arts.”
The center’s #PoetsForScience effort also will showcase 20 seven-foot banners with science-themed poems curated by Hirshfield and designed by Each + Every design studio as well as hundreds of #PoetsForScience posters, which they will hand out before the march and make available for download at satellite marches around the world.
The Traveling Stanzas project is born from the belief that poetry is for the people. People turn to poetry to give voice to what is troubling them, to honor what they love, to make sense of their lives, to remember their past, and to commemorate what they have lost. The word “stanza,” from Italian, literally means “a small waiting room in a train station.” Traveling Stanzas offers people moments of pause, pockets of time, with which to slow down and reflect on their lives, their communities, and to participate in a shared creative experience.
Using the newest digital technology to connect us to one of our oldest technologies—the written word—Traveling Stanzas celebrates the diverse, cultural identity of our democracy and can engage all people in a national, civic dialogue through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry. Traveling Stanzas initiatives include a global poetry website, mobile poetry exhibit, public transit posters, greeting cards, and public listening installations.