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Arts News: Celebrating Slam 

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For 25 years, Kent State University's Wick Poetry Center has been a pillar of Northeast Ohio's poetry community. It presents an annual reading series, publishes chapbooks by Ohio writers and first books by winners of its eponymous prize, and offers scholarships to KSU for student poets. The center was founded in 1984 by sculptor Robert Wick and his brother Walter, in memory of their sons Stan and Tom, both of whom died before the age of 20.

The center marked the anniversary with the recent release of a book-length anthology of past Wick prize winners, The Next of Us Is About to Be Born (Kent State University Press, 2009, 197pp., paper, $24.95), a title reflecting the center's interest in finding and promoting young voices.

This week brings the culminating events of the 25th anniversary celebration. At 7 p.m. Thursday, students, teachers and senior citizens will present the eighth annual Giving Voice Performance, featuring original poetry and music in the KSU Student Center Ballroom. Then at 10:45 a.m. Friday, Wick director Maggie Anderson will lead a panel discussion titled "Outreach in the Community," followed by a slide show and talk at 1 p.m. Both take place in the KSU Student Center, room 306. At 6 p.m. Friday, the poets host a potluck dinner at the United Church of Christ of Kent (1400 E. Main St.). Seating is limited, so RSVP to the Wick Poetry Center at 330.672.2067 if you want to attend. Finally, there's an open reading at noon Saturday at Woodsy's Performance Center (135 S. Water St., downtown Kent). Go to dept.kent.edu/wick for more information.

Speaking of young poets, PlayhouseSquare's Slam U series culminated last weekend with competition finals that selected the team to represent Cleveland in the Brave New Voices National Youth Poetry Slam, held this year in Chicago. Members of Cleveland's team are: Derick Holifield (junior, Cleveland School of the Arts), Cyndii Johnson (senior, Cleveland School of the Arts), Jonathan Lykes (freshman, University of Chicago), Lee McKinstry (senior, Westlake High School), Eric Odum (senior, Cleveland School of the Arts) and Akeem Rollins (City Year). With three veterans of last year's national team (Lykes, Odum and Rollins), this year's crew ought to be well prepared for the big show. A week before their trip to Chicago, they'll give a send-off performance at 7 p.m. July 8 at the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare.  It's free.

mgill@clevescene.com

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