In cooperation with the Kent State University Press, the Wick Poetry Center sponsors an annual poetry chapbook competition for Ohio writers, a National Teen Writing contest, as well as the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. The winning manuscripts are published by the Kent State University Press, and the winners give a public reading of their work on campus.

Maj Ragain (1940-2018) was a beloved creative writing professor and mentor. In memory of his many years serving the Kent community, his family has established the Maj Ragain Poetry Scholarship. Each year, under the leadership of the Wick Poetry Center, a committee comprised of Kent State creative writing faculty and Wick Poetry Center staff will award 1 Kent State student (undergraduate or graduate) the Maj Ragain Poetry Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship will support the student leading community poetry workshops and organizing a yearly poetry reading at Last Exit Books. 


  1. All Kent State University undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least part-time and in good standing at the university are eligible to apply. 
  2. Submit 5 pages of original poetry and a two-page essay answer the question: “What is the value of poetry to a community?”
  3. Do not include your name or any other identifying information in your submission, including the file name. The scholarship award is judged blindly. Any identifying information will disqualify the scholarship application.
  4. In the cover letter section, include all of your current contact information.
  5. By applying, applicants confirm that they are available to lead TEN one-hour writing workshops in the Kent community (time, date, location TBD) between December 2018 and June 2019. Applicants confirm that they are also available to organize a poetry reading at Last Exit Books in the spring of 2019. 
  6. Applications open on October 1 and close December 1. 
  7. Scholarship winner will be notified in December.

The Wick Poetry Center seeks poetry and short prose (1500 words or less) submissions that engages with the Cuyahoga River. 

From the Mohawk, the name Cuyahoga means "crooked river.” From the Seneca, “place of the jawbone.” 

The Cuyahoga River is a circulatory system in our region and the larger body politic of Northeast Ohio. The river, like all waters in cultural stories and myths, has the capacity to heal. The river sustained us in the past and prompted the development of our cities, and in recognition of this legacy the Wick Poetry Center is creating River Stanzas: A Collective Dreaming of the Cuyahoga through Poetry, Art, and Design. We ask writers to investigate and give voice to the many ways the river sustains us creatively and teaches us about our connection to the environment and our community.

The crisis for our river achieved critical mass on June 22, 1969 when the Cuyahoga caught fire. The photographs (immortalized by a Time magazine cover) ignited the hearts and minds of people around the country. The river became a symbol for the environmental movement, and the crisis offered the country an opportunity to examine public environmental policies and our communities’ relationships with our planet. 

In June 2019 our community will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our river’s rebirth. From crisis, we now have the opportunity to celebrate the success through poetry, art, and design, showcase our community’s vibrancy—its riverbanks and bike trails, its hiking paths and streetscapes, and rise to the challenge of conveying what we’ve learned to the stewards of the next generation. 

Accepted submissions may be designed into posters that may be exhibited in public settings and temporary installations, used in an interactive digital station at the new Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors center, included in an online gallery, or collected into a anothology for publication. 

While the Wick Poetry Center will continue to collect poetry and prose through the summer of 2019, submissions must be received by April 15th, 2019 to be included in educational exhibits and conversations about the 50th anniversary of the 1969 fire.

Wick Poetry Center