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Traveling Stanzas Project Promotes Healing

Posted Aug. 15, 2011

Healing Stanzas is the third edition of the Wick Poetry Center's Traveling Stanzas.

A partnership between Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and Glyphix design studio in the university’s School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) produced its third edition of Traveling Stanzas, Healing Stanzas.

Several designers and poets participated in a discussion of the creative processes involved in the development of the Traveling Stanzas project at the Akron METRO Transit Center on April 19. Posters and poems were displayed in Northeast Ohio transit systems in 2010 and 2011.

As part of the mission to share design and poetry with the community, poets from area schools, hospitals and veterans' groups read their poems and Glyphix designers provided insight into their illustrations of the poems. The Healing Stanzas aim is to encourage dialogue about the connection between art and medicine, writing and healing.

“The poets read the poems with which they were associated and discussed the process of the poetry sessions held with Wick Poetry Center staff,” says Valora Renicker, VCD assistant professor and creative director of Glyphix. “Dr. Joe Varley of Summa communicated how, in many cases, the act of writing and reading poems has a cathartic effect upon the patients. Health caregivers found great empathy among their group when the emotions of their involvement with patients came through in the poetry. Difficult experiences and the satisfaction of knowing they have helped others came out in their writing experiences.”

The designers spoke about the poetry readings they held in Glyphix with the Wick staff members and the process of beginning to interpret the poems visually.

“They spoke about the overall feeling that was created by the poem, for example in "Mostly" the designer, Joe Scherben, thought it spoke of an emotional give and take in a relationship,” Renicker says. “He chose to depict a couple in silhouette in a landscape background. Erin Stearns who designed "Ode to My Body" from the Peace Stanzas edition spoke about the artistic influences of collaging and the study of Picasso's human forms which informed her transparent layers of body shapes.”

METRO and PARTA posted a total of 80 posters each year in their buses. The systems donated the ad space. Even Cleveland RTA has displayed one design a month since January on its buses and trains and will continue to do so throughout the fall. RTA donated the printing costs for its posters.

These partnerships provide sponsorships to help support and continue the project, covering printing costs of the bus posters. Also as part of this program, numerous Glyphix students have earned $6,000 scholarships for their work on the project.

In addition to the bus posters, the Healing Stanzas also appear as blank greeting cards and larger posters, both of which are available for purchase at www.travelingstanzas.com.

Kent State students produced digital animations of the Traveling Stanzas graphic designs, which online users can email to others at http://vcd.kent.edu/healing_stanzas/index.php?greeting=true.

The theme for 2011-2012 will continue to be Healing Stanzas.

“We have great support from local health care groups,” Renicker said. “The topic is very current and important in health care education. We will be part of a Summa-sponsored "arts in the healthcare field" conference in the spring of 2012.”

Sponsors of the Healing Stanzas project include: the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland; Summa Foundation, Akron; the Poetry Foundation, Chicago; Kent State University College of Communication and Information; Kent State University School of Library and Information Science; Ohio Arts Council; RTA, Cleveland; Metro RTA, Akron; and PARTA, Kent.

JUST IN! The Traveling Stanzas website, under the category 'Arts/Culture', recently won the Interactive Media Awards (IMA) Best in Class Award. The Best in Class Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Interactive Media Awards. It represents the very best in planning, execution and overall professionalism. In order to win this award level, the site had to successfully pass through a comprehensive judging process, achieving very high marks in each of the judging criteria – an achievement only a fraction of sites in the IMA competition earn each year.