Charlie Malone and River Stanzas

Malone is the Program Outreach Manager for the Wick Poetry Center and works on promoting outreach through the center. This past summer the Wick Poetry Center celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire by creating River Stanzas. 

Charlie Malone outside of Wick Poetry Center, Malone worked on programming for the River Stanzas this past summer that played major roles in celebrating 50 years since the Cuyahoga River burned. Courtesy of Charles Malone.

“Part of our main ethos is to put poetry to work, to address the wounds, the histories and the struggles in our communities and make poetry a useful thing for our community,’’ Malone said. ‘‘River Stanzas was an idea of how we could use poetry to honor the history of the Cuyahoga River.’’

Malone joined the Wick Team in 2016 but graduated from Kent in 2006 with his Bachelors in English, Masters in Writing and then went to pursue his Masters in Fine Arts at Colorado State. River Stanzas was created before he joined the Wick Poetry team, but Malone ran programs and sought partnerships to push the possibilities of the idea.

He is from Newbury, OH originally, saying that Kent has always felt like home to him. He has worked at universities such as Naropa University, Front Range Community College, Colorado State, Ferris State University and the University of Northen Colorado.

Malone returned to Kent because of the environment, he felt that Kent continues to push for growth and gives him an opportunity to push for outreach.

The Wick Poetry Center’s digital tools and Traveling Stanzas helped to pave the path for the River Stanzas.  

‘‘There were a number of different projects and pieces that contributed to the project, one was partnering with the Cuyahoga National Valley Park and using programming to create field trips that teachers could take their classes on.’’

Malone said the partnership with the park opened up connections for students who had never been to a national park before. ‘‘Being the reason that they are experiencing that is a real joy,’’ he said.

Malone thought the work done for the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire influenced communities to take part and take action, talking about how people came to festivals and ceremonies even in terrible weather conditions. 

‘‘In June the river was as high as it has ever been in years. It was very much a flood stage and people kept getting tangled up in the trees and that sort of thing but it was really special to be out on the edge of the water with our community in the rain talking about what it means to us and see all the people come out,’’ he said. 

Malone said the importance of poetry is how it makes people feel and putting it to work, something he believes continues to need to be done even though it’s been 50 years since the river burned. He saw unity in the way that people came together to care about their river in their own communities throughout the summer even beyond River Stanzas.


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