Wick Poetry Center commemorates river burning with interactive poetry exhibit, community poem

Join the Wick Poetry Center as it celebrates the grand opening of the River Stanzas exhibit at The Downtown Gallery, 141 E Main St., on Friday at 5 p.m.

Nearly 50 years ago to the day, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, prompting national conversations about clean water and environmental preservation. By displaying poetry from local community members and encouraging residents to create their own verses, Wick Poetry Center Director David Hassler wants to use the exhibit to engage community members in conversation about how much the river has transformed.

The River Stanzas exhibit will allow visitors to create their own poetry using “Emerge,” Hassler said. Emerge is an online tool developed by the center which allows people to turn primary source texts into erasure poetry by selecting specific words from the text.

“We created a digital took called ‘Emerge’ so we’ll have these iPads in The Downtown Gallery,” Hassler said. “Emerge is a digital form of erasure or blackout poetry that we created two years ago. It allows you to upload documents around any theme so we will upload texts about the Cuyahoga River and the history of the burning.”

Using screens at the gallery, people will start their poem by selecting a block of text from a primary source article or book aboutthe Cuyahoga River. Then, by tapping on different words, visitors can choose which words they want to be in their poem. Then, using a blur bar on the application, they can control how visible — or invisible — the text around the highlighted words become.

After creating their own erasure poetry, visitors can print their poetry onto a postcard to send to friends or hang on the wall of the gallery, joining around 2,000 other poems like it.

The River Stanzas exhibit at the gallery will remain open until July 22.

For more information on the exhibit and the River Stanzas project, visit https://travelingstanzas.com/educators/river-stanzas. Education lesson plans for teachers can be accessed on the site as well as a web version of Emerge.

Reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey can be reached at kmcgarvey@recordpub.com or 330-298-1127


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POSTED: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - 10:28am
Kaitlyn McGarvey