Kent State’s College of Nursing, Wick Poetry Center Unveil Poem That Incorporates the Voices of 600 Nurses
SOME DAYS you’ll wake up and know your life has purpose
This is who you are - who you want to be - a nurse
A day in the life of a nurse is a dynamic experience. Containing both bright and dark moments, a nurse must sort through an emotional roller-coaster daily. These sensitive moments and memories are tangible elements in the Kent State University College of Nursing’s new poem, Some Days, an interdepartmental collaborative project among the college, Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center and design firm Each + Every. Commissioned in celebration of the College of Nursing’s 50th anniversary, the poem, which is displayed for public view in Henderson Hall, is the first of its kind to incorporate community voices focused on a specific topic.
“This poem honors the work of nurses across all disciplines, highlighting our compassionate care, leadership and research,” says Barbara Broome, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing. “It is all of us talking at once about what it means to be a nurse. At the same time, it shows the enormous impact patients have on who nurses are and how patients shape who the nurse will become.”
More than 600 Kent State College of Nursing students, faculty and alumni participated in eight Healing Stanzas writing workshops hosted by David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, in 2017. During the workshops, poems about healing and the work of nurses were used to inspire participants to write personal reflections exploring their own feelings and thoughts about the nursing profession. Mr. Hassler then wove individual lines and images from the collected reflections into one piece.
“That creative process involved a deep reading,” Mr. Hassler says. “I looked for ways in which one line or image spoke with another, creating an arc of inclusive feeling and thought. It was exciting to connect individual stories and experiences with a larger collective story and voice.”
The different sections, or stanzas, of the poem are meant to be read from beginning to end, however they also can be enjoyed individually and in any order. When read traditionally, the language creates a dramatic arc and rhythm. It was the ebb and flow, along with the organic qualities of each individual voice, that inspired the poem’s graphic representation.
“Like a symphony of musical instruments with their own tone and timbre, each voice in the poem has its own spirit, its own tenor,” says Alex Catanese, Kent State alumnus and design director for Each + Every. “While each line, shape or texture exists as a unique entity, each one also contributes to the overall experience. They blend into one another and speak as one voice.”
Described by Mr. Hassler as the world’s first “Walking Poem,” the Some Days installation is approximately 6.25 feet tall and 40 feet long. He envisions people becoming fully immersed in the design and language of the poem, taking in the various details by coming in close or stepping farther back. While murals of poems by individual, well-known poets have existed for some time, this is the first large-scale poem created to give a meaningful voice to a specific profession and its community.
“When you see the poem on the wall, it looks like the day of a nurse,” Dean Broome says. “The colors and shapes are all over the place, just like the emotions a nurse experiences. The writing process challenged us to go back into the recesses of our minds and put our everyday thoughts on paper. Many of us shared a side of ourselves that others wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
The poem has received an overwhelmingly positive response from faculty and students, many of whom are excited to find bits of their own writing in the finished piece.
“Written words often convey what we are unable to say aloud,” says Anna Ancona, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, CNE, pediatric nurse practitioner concentration coordinator in the College of Nursing. “It is amazing to see my voice and how it relates to others in the poem.”
Some Days was officially unveiled to the public on Oct. 14 during the College of Nursing’s 50 Year’s Strong reception, which was held at Henderson Hall following the university’s Homecoming parade. The poem also will be added to the Wick Poetry Center’s interactive map website. Individuals all over the world will be able to see a photo. To experience Some Days, visit http://map.travelingstanzas.com.