UConn’s upcoming public poem series revealed

Students presents their work for the Poetic Journeys at Art Building 109 April 24th. It was developed by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut and inspired by the New York MTA’s Poetry in Motion series, itself inspired by London’s Poems on the Underground.  (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

Students presents their work for the Poetic Journeys at Art Building 109 April 24th. It was developed by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut and inspired by the New York MTA’s Poetry in Motion series, itself inspired by London’s Poems on the Underground.  (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

Inspired by NYC Transit’s “Poetry in Motion,” “Poetic Journeys” is a poem-poster series that delights the eye and stimulates the brain. For the past 17 years, UConn hallways, buses and elevators have played host to vivifying verses rendered in exquisite designs. Poems are solicited from UConn students, faculty, staff and affiliates and only six are chosen to be workshopped into visual pieces via the students at the Design Center Studio.

“This poem series was designed with the intent to grant writers and designers an opportunity to publish work as well as an opportunity for the bus riders going about their busy days to slow down and reflect for a moment,” announced host speaker and Associate Director of the Creative Writing Program at UConn, Matthew Shelton. “Working with these poets and designers was truly a remarkable and humbling experience. Be sure to keep an eye out for the posters that will be going up in the fall of next school year.”

Started in 2000 by the Creative Writing Program, UConn’s 17th annual Poetic Journey public poster series for the coming semester was released Monday evening in the company of the designers, poets, other students and lovers of poetry. Hosted in the gallery room 109 of the Art Building, guests were enveloped in a peaceful space of low light cast upon the final works of the series. With soft music creating a relaxed mood for the gallery space, patrons gathered around the completed pieces displayed on the walls via pins, and projectors, as they snacked on gourmet refreshments courtesy of dining services.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect at a poetry gallery opening, but I think they did a great job with the set up of the gallery space and the vibe it gives off. I’ve never seen poetry on display in a gallery with huge projectors before. I have never really been to anything quite like this, the poems are all well done,” second-semester Biology student, Kevin Okifo, said.

After the audience was given ample time to mingle, a guided show of the work by the duos of designers and poets began as they read their works to the audience and discussed the process of turning these literary artworks into visual ones.

All following a common black, white and red color theme, the pieces varied greatly in length, topic, style, tone and mood. All of which were reflected by the designers’ choice in typeface, arrangement, color and scale of the clauses. Many of the designers chose unique fonts and pagination to visually aid the poetry.

This can be seen clearly in second-semester anthropology major, Corona Zhang’s, work, the selection of negative space aided the reader in the pace of how the poem was intended to be read. In addition to that, spatial orientation of repeated words created parallels between the visual and literary emphasis. “For my poem ‘In Reverberations’ I really wrote from raw feeling. At the time, I was starting college in the fall for the first time and I had many mixed emotions of exciting potential but also loneliness that made their way into the poem.”

The poems on display in the gallery space of the Art Building will remain open to the public for a short period of time before they are removed to then begin production for their Autumnal debut, campus wide.


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.