Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Berea English Professor, Students Offer Interactive Poetry Event at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, November 18, 2015  
Contact Information:  Gwen Heffner
Information Specialist
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
859/ 985-5448, ext. 230

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Berea College students will offer an interactive poetry event at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Berea College English professor Libby Jones is always looking for innovative teaching ideas and techniques, and she found one such method in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, edited by Kristin Camitta Zimet. Jones and her poetry students will be using this interactive technique to write “senryu” poems for visitors at the center. Senryu is a form of poetry, similar to haiku, that focuses on human nature or growth. 

In this poetry exercise, students come up with a list of five questions, (for example: “What lost thing do you miss the most?” or “What is your earliest memory?”). They then go out into the community and connect with people at various public locations. Students sit at a table with a sign saying, “Free Poems!” When anyone stops to see what it is about – they ask the visitors if they would like a poem written about them. If a person says yes, then the student asks a few questions, writes a quick poem on a card and gives it to the visitor. Poetry in action!

  Students write poems for visitors at the center

“As poets, we believe that creativity is central and that words make a difference in people’s lives,” stated Jones. “Writing poems for people who share a little bit of themselves with us is a way to strengthen everyone’s awareness of words and poetry. The poem becomes a way to honor a person’s experience and the poet’s art.”

Former participating students found that this innovative poetry technique was beneficial to them in developing their intuition in asking questions and making connections.

“I got to know the people I wrote poems for,” said Jesse Fowler, a 2015 Berea graduate from Rutherford, North Carolina. “They were always touched by our gesture.”             

Berea College students participating with Jones in this interactive poetry event are: Jennie Adams, a senior Asian studies major from Lancing, Tennessee; Zack Thomas, a senior English writing major, from Summerton, Tennessee; Jacob Anderson, a senior English writing major, from Elkhorn City, Kentucky; and Henry Pinkerton, a community member, from Berea. Jones’ book of poetry, “Above the Eastern Treetops, Blue,” is available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. A special exhibit, “It Takes Two: Collaborations by Kentucky Artisans,” is on display through Feb. 27, 2016. The center’s lobby showcases an 18-foot Christmas tree with colorful ornaments made by Kentucky artisans. For more information about events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website at, or on Facebook at

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.