By Kelsey Block
Glenn and Sue Stutzky, the longest serving members of the Center for Poetry’s Community Council, have recently retired from their positions. While they still support the Center’s mission, they finished their terms proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.
The Stutzkys have been involved with the Center for Poetry even before it began. They were first drawn to the Center because of their previous relationship with Center for Poetry Director Anita Skeen, who they met through the One Book, One Community workshops.
“We just need more investment in the arts. People getting involved in the community council, it’s actually a very low-cost way to further the arts,” Glenn Stutzky said.
Sue works as a legislative analyst for the Michigan House of Representatives, and Glenn is a professor in the school of social work at Michigan State University. The two don’t always have the chance to engage with poetry and creative writing in their professions, and they’ve welcomed the opportunities the Center for Poetry has provided.
“We’ve seen people who have had the same experience as us – writing was something that was accessible. We didn’t have to be in a degree program, we could still learn and create,” Glenn Stutzky said.
Since joining the Community Council, the pair has helped bring a number of new events to the Center for Poetry, including a pie and poetry night. They’ve also been instrumental in the Center for Poetry’s mission to establish a poet laureate in the state of Michigan.
The accomplishment they’re most proud of, however, is bringing Appalachian musician Elizabeth LaPrelle to East Lansing in 2012. The Stutzkys attended a music festival where LaPrelle was performing and asked if she would like to visit the Center – for free.
“We thought, ‘Boy, wouldn’t it be great to have a night of Appalachian music and poetry?’” Sue Stutzky said.
The Stutzkys turned LaPrelle’s visit into a fundraiser for the Center.
“She had her following (in Appalachian music) and I thought, ‘Well, wouldn’t this be nice if she drew some people from there?’ Because chances are, there are also people who would enjoy poetry. And that happened, and a number of people got introduced (to the Center for Poetry) that way,” Sue Stutzky said.
Since LaPrelle’s visit , the Center for Poetry has expanded its programming to include not just poets, but musicians and writers in other genres. This past fall, the Center hosted another pair of Appalachian folklorists, Michael and Carrie Kline along with Iowa-native singer-songwriter Nathan Bell.
In the future, the Stutzkys said they would like to see the Center’s reach expand even further into the community, both within Lansing and even statewide. They also hope the Center works to increase its contacts with other arts organizations in the state.
“I think the Community Council could work in trying to be more of a bug whereby poetry enthusiasts around the state can connect with each other and be aware of what’s happening,” Sue Stutzky said. “Slowly, word is getting out. It’s expanding. More poets, both people who have had some poems published and people who just write for their own edification, are getting to know about the Center and are coming to events.”