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Keynote: David Hassler
Keynote Speaker - David Hassler
As Director of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, David Hassler has worked tirelessly to engage surrounding communities through poetry. He has implemented outreach initiatives at schools, programs for at-risk youth, nursing homes, veterans groups, libraries, and community centers. He also coordinates Speak Peace, where children, veterans, and poets respond to Vietnamese children's art; Traveling Stanzas, which combines the talents of Visual Communication Design students with the writing of community members to encourage dialogue about the connection between art and medicine, writing and healing; and Giving Voice, an annual event featuring live performances of poetry and music by students and local artists. Every year, Wick provides scholarships to winners of its high school poetry contest, publishes two Ohio poetry chapbook winners, and awards a prestigious national first book prize. Mr. Hassler also oversees the Wick Poetry Reading Series, which consistently showcases local writers, young and old, in addition to poets of regional, national, and international renown.
Moreover, Mr. Hassler is an accomplished writer. He is the author of two books of poems, most recently, Red Kimono, Yellow Barn, for which he was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2006. His play, May 4th Voices, is based on oral histories of the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State and will be published this spring along with a Teacher's Resource Book. In collaboration with photographer Gary Harwood, Mr. Hassler authored Growing Season: The Life of a Migrant Community, a winner of both the Ohioana Book Award and the Carter G. Woodson Honor Book Award, as well as a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award. Additionally, he is the co-editor of several other collections, including Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School, After the Bell: Contemporary American Prose about School, and A Place to Grow: Voices and Images of Urban Gardeners.