The Wick Poetry Center has one goal through their flagship project, Traveling Stanzas: to bring poetry to everyday lives. Through encouraging new voices in poetry, they hope to facilitate and engage people in an inclusive, international conversation.
Traveling Stanzas began as an opportunity for aspiring poets to contribute pieces to a yearly body of work promoted by the organization. Each edition partners the poets with designers who illustrate the poem to add a new dimension to how the reader experiences the piece.
For the past few years, we have been partnering with Wick to expand the Traveling Stanzas Project. This first began with a new brand and website, and is still growing through our continued collaboration, strategic branding, the design and development of digital writing tools, and traveling exhibits.
While developing the Traveling Stanzas mark, we looked at historical and contemporary literary works, and became inspired by the way that poetry is often typeset or formatted unconventionally. We found that this unique juxtaposition of poetry and typography formed a metaphor for the Traveling Stanzas’ mission: to break down cultural borders and make poetry accessible to everyone. At every level of the brand, the typography never ceases to move and adapt to new modes of being.
As the Traveling Stanzas project has expanded its poetry writing workshops with the International Institute of Akron and Urban Vision through a Knight Arts Grant, the staff realized a need for digital writing tools that would bring poetry to participants in fresh, innovative, and accessible ways. We’ve worked alongside the Wick staff at each stage of every project—a digital poetry map, an erasure poetry app, and a community poem app—from strategy and naming to design and development.
We worked alongside the Wick Poetry Center and the City of Kent to adapt Traveling Stanzas illustrations to fit on utility boxes and kiosks around Kent and Akron, with the goal of bringing poetry into the public consciousness. Accompanying the illustrations are audio devices which play the author reciting their poem.
Alongside the public art experience created, we designed and developed a web app that would allow people to navigate to the boxes, read the poems, view the original art, and listen to the poet read their piece.
Emerge is an app that reimagines erasure poetry in a digital environment. Participants are presented with seminal excerpts from speeches, books, and articles, and choose words which “emerge” from the text around it. The result is a succinct poem, often commenting or expanding on the original author’s ideas.
Thread is a platform on which a poem is created collaboratively. Passersby can reflect on what the setting—typically a conference or a festival—means to them, and add their stanza to the existing poem. As the poem grows over the course of the event, many voices—united by their identity in the community—come together to make something that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
—David Hassler, Director, Wick Poetry Center