Traveling Stanzas—Thank You, Tree

In partnership with the Wick Poetry Center 

Fatou M'Baye photographed by Melissa OlsonPoet: Fatou M’Baye

Hometown: Kent, Ohio
“When we were younger, my girlfriends and I called this tree Mrs. Oak,” says Fatou M’Baye, sitting beneath the tree that was their gathering place on their elementary school playground. “Whenever we felt sad or lonely we would talk to her—it would make us feel better. This year we realized it is a maple tree!”

M’Baye wrote the poem “Thank You, Tree” last fall as a fifth-grader attending the Holden Elementary School Writer’s Club, an after-school program. David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, held a workshop at the club as part of the center’s outreach efforts to the community. “In the first session, we started with the idea of being grateful for something in our lives,” says Hassler. “Fatou chose this tree.”

“I wanted to thank her for helping me and my friends,” says M’Baye. “I wanted to thank all the trees. Without them we wouldn’t have healthy, happy lives.”

Fatou M'Baye sitting beneath the tree that inspired her poem, photographed by Melissa Olson

Illustration by Rust Valley Design

Poem by Fatou M'Baye illustrated by Rust Valley Design


Since 2009 illustrated poems have made their way across Northeast Ohio, displayed on buses and transit systems and printed on posters and postcards as a project of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Wick Poetry Center. Now these poetry illustrations are journeying around the world as part of an interactive website and traveling exhibit that launched this fall, with support from the Ohio Arts Council. 

Traveling Stanzas—an award-winning collaboration between the Wick Poetry Center and the School of Visual Communication Design—aims to facilitate a global conversation through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry. Featured poems are curated from global submissions and illustrated by Kent State students and alumni.

Share Your Voice!

In partnership with Traveling Stanzas, Kent State Magazine will feature a poem by one of our readers in future issues. If your poem is selected by the Wick Poetry Center, it will be illustrated and appear in print and online versions of the magazine, as well as on the Traveling Stanzas homepage. 

To submit your poem, visit, click “Submit,” and label it “Magazine Entry.”

For more information, call Wick Poetry Center at 330-672-2067.

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