Speak a Powerful Magic
Ten Years of the Traveling Stanzas Poetry Project
Naomi Shihab Nye
The Kent State University Press
This beautiful and moving book, featuring a representative collection of Traveling Stanzas poetry illustrations, celebrates the tenth anniversary of this award-winning community arts project. Launched in 2009 as a collaboration between Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and Professor Valora Renicker’s visual communication design students, Traveling Stanzas pairs poems with striking graphic designs. The resulting images, in both print and digital forms, have been featured in galleries, community spaces, interactive media, and on regional and national mass transit.
Speak a Powerful Magic features poems by school children, immigrants and refugees, patients and caregivers, and veterans, alongside the work of well-known contemporary American poets, and it demonstrates that poetry is truly of the people. We turn to poetry to give voice to what is troubling us, to honor what we love, to make sense of our lives, to remember our past, and to commemorate what we’ve lost. Here, it becomes clear that poetry, especially when coupled with the visual arts, has the potential to broaden our understanding and bring people together in ways that more traditional communications simply cannot.
While the eye is drawn to the colors, lines, and images of these graphic representations, we are rewarded with far deeper meanings by reading the poetry gathered in this book. Speak a Powerful Magic demonstrates that there is a place for poetry even among those who think they have no interest in it, that there is space for conversation beyond our normal divisions, and that our human responses are more common than not.
“Traveling Stanzas,” writes poet Naomi Shihab Nye, “reminds us why we fell in love with poetry to begin with: it lights up the darkness of which we have plenty, it brilliantly restores the magic of language and hope and connection.”
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. Founded in 1984, the Center was established by Robert Wick, a sculptor and former art department faculty member at Kent State University, and his brother, Walter Wick, in memory of their sons Stan (1962–1980) and Tom (1956–1973).