Kent State University College of Nursing, Wick Poetry Center Unveil Poem Comprised of 600 Nurse Voices
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 Kent State University College of Nursing’s new poem, Some Days, an interdepartmental collaborative project between the college, Kent State University Wick Poetry Center and Kent, OH, design firm, Each + Every. Commissioned in celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary, the poem, which is displayed for public view in Henderson Hall, is the first of its kind to be comprised of community voices focused on a specific topic.
SOME DAYS you’ll wake up and know your life has purpose
This is who you are - who you want to be - a nurse
“This poem honors the work of nurses across all disciplines, highlighting our compassionate care, leadership, and research. It is all of us talking at once about what it means to be a nurse.” said Kent State University College of Nursing Dean Barbara Broome, Ph.D., RN, FAAN. “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 University 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. Hassler then wove individual lines and images from the collected reflections into one piece.
“That creative process involved a deep reading. I looked for the ways in which one line or image spoke with another, creating an arc of inclusive feeling and thought,” said Hassler. “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 can also 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,” said Alex Catanese, Kent State University 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 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. The colors and shapes are all over the place, just like the emotions a nurse experiences,” said Dean Broome. “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,” said Anna Ancona, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, CNE, College of Nursing pediatric nurse practitioner concentration coordinator. “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 Saturday, October 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 will also 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, please visit http://map.travelingstanzas.com.
About Kent State University’s College of Nursing
In existence for 50 years, the College of Nursing at Kent State University is one of the largest and most comprehensive nursing programs in the nation with more than 12,000 alumni worldwide. As part of Kent State’s eight-campus system, the college provides more than 2,000 nursing students courses of study at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. To learn more about nursing programs at Kent State, please visit www.kent.edu/nursing.
About the Wick Poetry Center
Established in 1984 by Robert Wick, sculptor and former art department faculty member at Kent State University, and his brother, Walter Wick, in memory of their sons, the Wick Poetry Center encourages new voices by promoting opportunities for individuals and communities locally, regionally, and nationally. Wick engages emerging and established poets and poetry audiences through readings, publications, workshops, and scholarship opportunities.