History of the Wick Poetry Center

In 1984, Robert Wick, a sculptor and former art department faculty member at Kent State University, and his brother, Walter Wick, established what is today known as the Wick Poetry Center in memory of their sons Stan (1962–1980) and Tom (1956–1973) Wick.

“Out of painful beginnings, my brother Walter and I have found great meaning in…the success of Wick Poetry and the future of young poets.” —Robert Wick


Directors

  • David Hassler, current
  • Maggie Anderson, founding director

1984

  • Robert and Walter Wick establish Wick Poetry scholarship funds for Kent State undergraduate poets.  The winner also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the summer Bisbee Poetry Festival in Arizona, where he or she reads alongside major American poets.

1992

  • Maggie Anderson becomes the committee chair for the Wick Poetry Program.
  • The Wick Poetry Program expands to include an annual reading series, which features nationally renowned poets.

1994

  • Wick Poetry celebrates its tenth anniversary.

1995

  • The annual Ohio chapbook competition, which partners with Kent State University Press to publish the books, is established.
  • The first Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, judged by Gerald Stern, is awarded to Victoria Redel. This annual prize offers an award of $2,000 and, through partnership with the Kent State University Press, publication of a first full-length book of poems.

1999

  • Wick Poetry begins offering outreach workshops to area schools and the community.

2000

  • David Hassler is hired to expand outreach and to teach an undergraduate writing course, “Teaching Poetry in the Schools.” The course, still offered each spring, allows Kent State students to teach poetry to local grade-school students and senior citizens.

2004

  • Wick scholarships for incoming freshmen and undergraduate students grow to annual awards totaling more than $25,000.
  • Wick Poetry celebrates its twentieth anniversary by inviting former prize winners, interns, fellows, judges, and scholarship winners from around the country.

2005

  • Wick Poetry Program officially becomes the Wick Poetry Center. With Maggie Anderson named as founding director, the center expands public readings and community outreach by hiring David Hassler as the full-time program and outreach director.

2006

  • Wick begins the Bisbee Summer Fellowship Program, a multigenre workshop for Northeast Ohio MFA students. Selected students participate in a three-week workshop that includes one week at the home of Robert and Estellean Wick in Bisbee, Arizona.

2009

  • Wick Poetry Center celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • The first set of Traveling Stanzas is created. Traveling Stanzas, a collaborative project between the Wick Poetry Center and Kent State visual communication design students, combines the creative talents of Kent State students with local students, veterans, healthcare providers and patients at area hospitals. Traveling Stanzas posters promote awareness of poetry and art throughout northeast Ohio by appearing on mass transit systems, business, schools, and libraries.
  • Maggie Anderson, founding director, retires, and David Hassler is appointed director of the Wick Poetry Center. Nicole Robinson is hired as the outreach manager.

2010

  • Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings, which combines paintings from the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with poems written by American children, veterans, and established poets, opens in Kent, Ohio, and begins its three-year tour of the United States.

2011

  • Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings continues its three-year tour of the United States.

2012

  • Jessica Jewell is hired as the program manager.

2014

  • The Wick Poetry Center celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
  • The Wick Poetry Center gets a new home in the May Prentice House, a 113 year-old home that belonged to the university's first female faculty member.

2015

  • The Traveling Stanzas Project launches to facilitate a global conversation through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetryTraveling Stanzas is a project of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in collaboration with visual communication design students and alumni.
  • Györgyi Mihályi-Jewell is hired as the Marketing and Public Relations Communication Specialist.

2016

  • The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awards the Wick Poetry Center a $125,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant. The grant is used to lead writing workshops and share the voices of refugee and immigrant children and families in Akron. Using the newest digital technology to connect us to one of our oldest technologies—the written word—Traveling Stanzas: Writing Across Borders celebrates the diverse, cultural identity of northeast Ohio and engage in a citywide dialogue through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry.

2017

  • Charlie Malone is hired as the Program Outreach Manager.
  • The Ford Foundation awards the Poetry Coalition, of which the Wick Poetry Center is a founding member, a $200,000 grant to be administered over the course of two years. 
  • Jane Hirshfield and the Wick Poetry Center travel to DC for the March for Science as a part of their #PoetsforScience project. The project features an exhibit of science-themed poems curated by Jane Hirshfield and printed on seven-foot banners. 

2018

  • The National Endowment for the Arts awards a $90,000 grant to the Wick Poetry Center for its project River Stanzas: A Collective Dreaming of the Cuyahoga, which is an extension of its Traveling Stanzas Project. The River Stanzas project begins just a year before the 50th anniversary of the last fire in the Cuyahoga River. Through River Stanzas, community members will have the opportunity to share their voices, memories and feelings surrounding the Cuyahoga River, so that the community may reflect on the success of the river's rehabilitation. 
  • A multi-year collaboration with the Chautauqua Institution begins. The collaboration brings Wick Poetry Center’s outreach and Traveling Stanzas exhibit to Western New York and provides Kent State students access to writing workshops and opportunities at Chautauqua. 
  • Wick Poetry Center brings its Traveling Stanzas exhibit to AWP in Tampa.

2019

  • Wick Poetry Center brings its Poets for Science exhibit to AWP in Portland, Oregon.