Add Your Voice to the Refugee Experience Through Kent State’s Traveling Stanzas at Summit Artspace
Visitors to “Traveling Stanzas: Writing Across Borders” at Summit Artspace will experience the lives and hopes of refugee and immigrant community members through poetry and other media. V
The interactive exhibition created by Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center will be on display from Jan. 19 to Feb. 17 at the main gallery of Summit Artspace, located at 140 E. Market St. in Akron. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
The traveling digital exhibit features more than 30 beautifully-illustrated poems and videos that showcase refugee resettlement in Akron-area communities. At the heart of the exhibit is an interactive touchscreen experience, allowing visitors to browse content and become poets themselves.
The goal of Traveling Stanzas is to bring poetry to everyday lives by fostering meaningful conversations and encouraging new voices, says David Hassler, director of Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center. The Wick Poetry Center, one of the premier university poetry centers in the country, is a leader for its innovative community outreach.
An outcome of Traveling Stanzas is engagement in a national civic dialogue that promotes cultural understanding and empathy through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry, Mr. Hassler, an award-winning poet, explains.
When visitors interact with digital creative tools such as Emerge, Thread and other technology applications, their voices will be incorporated into the exhibit in a variety of ways—from a scrolling group poem to posted and printed decorated cards.
Traveling Stanzas has partnered with Kent State’s Visual Communication Design students and alumni, and the Kent-based design studio, Each + Every, to create a modular environmental design that can adapt to unique environments.
Launched in 2009 as a collaboration between the Wick Poetry Center and Kent State design students, Traveling Stanzas began as a project that paired poems generated in community writing workshops with graphic designs that were disseminated through artwork on public transportation throughout Northeast Ohio.
With a major grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, teaching artists from the Wick Poetry Center have engaged refugee and immigrant populations in the Akron community in a cross-cultural, intergenerational conversation through poetry and graphic design. Traveling Stanzas has offered people of all ages ways through which they can share their voices across the divisions of language, age and culture.
From its inception, Traveling Stanzas has continued to evolve and innovate, finding new ways to bring poetry to people’s everyday lives, facilitating creative and healing conversations nationally and internationally in such community sectors as education, healthcare, libraries, parks, museums, agencies for refugee and immigrant populations, senior centers and veterans’ organizations.
Traveling Stanzas has exhibited in locations around the world, including at the March for Science on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; at The Universe in Verse reading in Brooklyn; at the Tuscan AngloAmerican Festival in Florence, Italy; and a multinational War Memorial in Lyon, France.
Summit Artspace's main gallery is open Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 7 p.m.; and Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Additional hours are 5-9 p.m. during the Feb. 3 Artwalk and Feb. 15 3rd Thursday.
Summit Artspace is a nonprofit community art center organization that provides studio, exhibit and programming spaces in Summit County and the surrounding area for local artists and arts organizations. It is a center for art education open to all residents. For more information about Summit Artspace, visit www.summitartspace.org.
For more information about Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center, visit www.kent.edu/wick.