Poetry takes center stage at Chautauqua through new makerspace

CHAUTAUQUA — A new Poetry Makerspace in Chautauqua Institution’s Colonnade will bring poetry to the everyday lives of Chautauquans throughout the entire 2018 season.

Located in the space formerly occupied by the Chautauqua Fair Trading Company, the Makerspace will host Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center “Traveling Stanzas” exhibit.

The technology-infused interactive exhibit includes both analog and digital engagement tools that invite guests to create poetry from core texts selected to complement each week’s theme and arts programming. Using a poetry device similar to found poetry, or blackout poetry, an application called Emerge enables novice and established poets alike to create poems by selecting words or phrases in text that most appeal to them. They can then share their poems on social media, on video or even on a postcard that can be printed on location.

“Poetry has an incredible history at Chautauqua Institution and is a major focus of our current initiatives. The Makerspace is helping us to expand the reach of this transformational art form,” said Atom Atkinson, director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua. “The collaboration with Kent State has also enabled us to bring poetry into area schools, and it will be a centerpiece of our Education Wednesdays programs as well.”

Faculty from the Wick Poetry Center spent four days each in Jamestown High School and Clymer Central School in May. The team will return for a follow-up workshop with area students.

“We like to say that poetry is the means by which a place comes to know itself,” said David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center. “There is no better place than Chautauqua Institution to further highlight the power of poetry to build bridges, create new levels of understanding and articulate the community’s sense of itself.”

The long-term vision for the Wick-Chautauqua collaboration is to jointly create additional technology tools to enhance engagement in the literary arts and literacy in general.

The Makerspace will be staffed by docents from the Wick Poetry Center during the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through the season. Each Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., the poetry created in the Makerspace and during the workshops in Jamestown and Clymer will be shared during “Stanzas on the Plaza” events outside the Makerspace.

The Makerspace will also be used for faculty development experiences that are part of the 2018 Writers’ Festival. Teachers from Erie County and Chautauqua County public schools will be participating in the Festival and developing lesson plans incorporating experiences with poetry developed in the Makerspace in consultation with teaching artists from Wick Poetry Center and Just Buffalo.

The Poetry Makerspace is funded through generous gifts from Kate Dillon Hogan in memory of James Hogan and by an anonymous donor.

About Chautauqua Institution

The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages – all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.

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