Arts & Entertainment

CIC International Poetry Forum Grant Project

Written by Kaitlyn Stamm

The “Humanities Research for the Public Good” Grant was awarded to 24 institutions, including Carlow University, for the 2021-2022 academic year. The award allows several undergraduate students to engage in interdisciplinary research of the International Poetry Forum (IPF) archive.

The IPF was established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Samuel Hazo, PhD, and it allowed poets and artists all over the world to share their voices with the public, often at Carnegie Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh. The archive includes video and audio recordings, newspapers, posters (pictured below), and letters. Hazo collected and organized these materials from its founding in 1966 to 2009 with help from various artists in Pittsburgh.

Poetry Forum Poster from 1972-1973
Pictured: 1972-1973 International Poetry Forum flyer including a variety of poets and artists coming to showcase their work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The collaborative effort by faculty and the library merged various areas of expertise and content in the department of Art, Communication, and English as well as Grace Library, Carlow University Art Gallery, and the Social Justice Institutes. The faculty and students taking part in the grant include collection specialist Amy Bowman-McElhone, PhD, faculty mentor Sigrid King, PhD, campus administrator Ryan Scott, archive and library liaison Alyson Koenig, museum educator collaborator Sarah Zeffiro, community partner Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and four student interns: Caitlin McDonough, KJ Miller, Sarah Smilowitz, and Kaitlyn Stamm.

Koenig stated, “The library staff as a whole is excited to be involved in this project alongside the CIC Grant team. This is the first major archives-focused project on campus since before 2012, when [the archives] were moved into storage in preparation for the University Commons renovation. The IPF Archive houses a lot of incredible documents, recordings, and artwork that speaks to and highlights Dr. Hazo’s accomplishments within the IPF.

“We’re looking forward to having some of that work showcased in the exhibit this spring, and to sharing this wealth of knowledge with not only the grant team and the Carlow community, but with members of the Pittsburgh community, as well. After spending so long in storage, we’re hoping that this project generates some renewed interest in both the IPF and Carlow University Archives.”

The purpose of this project is to make the IPF archive accessible through a variety of approaches including research, curating, pedagogy, public programing, and community engagement. In the Spring 2022 semester, the Carlow University Art Gallery will hold an exhibition titled, “The Power of the Voice and the Agency of Citizenship: The International Poetry Forum Collection and Social Change.” This exhibition will feature key pieces discovered in the IPF archive, highlighting social change through various artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“It’s exciting that Carlow University owns the International Poetry Forum archive, a multimedia collection that spans decades,” said Zeffiro. “I enjoy collaborating with a passionate team of faculty and students to archive and plan an exhibit that will share, reach, and teach the Pittsburgh community and beyond about the IPF. The unique collection offers many opportunities to learn, and it’s exciting to plan an inspiring and educational exhibit for all audiences.”

Currently, the students are in phase two of the project by working directly with the archives then researching and documenting various findings. McDonough stated, “I’m really grateful to be an intern for the CIC IPF Grant Project. Going through the IPF archive has been a fascinating experience. I’ve loved reading handwritten poems by famous writers, seeing photos of these writers in Antonian Theatre, and learning about how important the IPF was during these moments of social change throughout history.

“It’s a really unique opportunity to have, especially as an undergraduate, and I’m so excited to share my interview with Samuel Hazo. His collection and work over the years is amazing to see, and it’s such an honor to be able to ask him personally about his work and experience with the IPF.”

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