Kent State University's Wick Poetry Center to move building along Esplanade

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University plans to leave behind its Satterfield Hall offices for a new home and park on the extension of the Esplanade walkway near South Lincoln Street.

The May Prentice house will be home to the Wick Poetry Center. Adjacent will be "The Poetry Park," an outdoor space to showcase poetry and serve as a gathering spot for both university and community events, performances, classroom field trips and more.

The May Prentice house was saved from demolition by KSU in February 2012 because of its historic ties to the university's first female faculty member.

David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, said the program's goal is to fully open on the Esplanade in October.

"We're really excited about it," Hassler said. "It's going to be such a community asset and will have ongoing creative programming connecting the university and community."

The Poetry Park will feature permanent display holders for changeable exhibits to showcase poetry coupled with graphic design.

Hassler said the poetry center's new home will incorporate digital technology to create interactive exhibits and bring poems to life.

"As you walk around the park, you'll be able to hold up your smart phone or tablet and hear the voice of a child, adult, veteran or caregiver reading his or her poem and make it come alive," he said. "So often, that's what we're missing. We teach literature or writing as something that remain on the page and distant, and here is a very interactive and alive space in our community."

A digital community classroom is planned to go inside the May Prentice house, which Hassler said will feature a large touch-screen smart board.

"We envision a writing wall in this classroom that has an 80-inch touch screen where you can treat it in many ways like an app," he said, explaining that it can be utilized for playing videos and animations that appear in the park, sending guest lectures or workshops into classrooms all over Ohio or the country, promoting conversations about poetry and more. "We're making a big push to deliver poetry through all kinds of innovative, digital delivery mechanisms while still increasing our face-to-face workshops in the community."

Hassler said relocating the Wick Poetry Center to the Esplanade not only makes the program a destination and a gateway to the university for prospective students and community members, but also highlights the function of the Esplanade.

"It shows that the Esplanade is a place for creative activity," he said, adding that the park can be used for musical events, dance and more. "It's meant to be shared and used by anyone."

The Wick Poetry Center and KSU have launched a fund-raising campaign for the project. More information on can be found at http://www.kent.edu/wick/park.cfm.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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  • Brilliant idea! What a peaceful environment for students and visitors alike!