Nina Freedlander Gibans attended Wellesley College, an important base from which to finish at Sarah Lawrence College where she became editor of the newspaper during the McCarthy era, and concentrated on studies in art, music and literature. Professors at the college then included William Rubin, Joseph Campbell, Horace Gregory and Alastair Reid. Her Master’s thesis for her post graduate work in Aesthetics and Art History with Thomas Munro at Case Western Reserve University was on Whitman, Eakins and Ives. The combination of these experiences laid the groundwork for her interests in aesthetic, integrated cultural and civic affairs forever.

Nina Freedlander Gibans’ life has been spent as an arts advocate, administrator, author and teacher as well as a community volunteer. Professional and volunteer life become integrated as these activities have focused on the Poet’s and Writer’s League of Greater Cleveland, Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Artists Foundation the Ohio Citizens for the Arts, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Shaker Heights Public Library and as staff at the Cleveland Area Arts Council, Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Children’s Museum. Nationally, she has served on the predecessor board of the Americans for the Arts. Poetry has been her art form since childhood. A poetry book, 18 Gardens and their Gardeners was the result of an Ohio Arts Council Artists Project award. She has published and read poetry from early childhood days including a time in San Francisco during the Beat Era, once on the same stage as Allen Ginsberg. Other books are The Community Arts Council Movement (Praeger 1982), Bridges to Understanding Children’s Museums (Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Case Western Reserve University, 1999) and Creative Essence: Cleveland’s Sense of Place (Kent State University Press, 2005). She has conceived and scripted four videos in collaboration with WVIZ public television on these subjects, the last of which was included in the 2003 Cleveland International Film Festival and is included as a DVD in the Creative Essence book.

Teaching has been extraordinarily gratifying: a course for teachers “Using the Community in Your Classroom”, a core Humanities course for non-traditional adult students, and courses on regional art. Major community-wide projects include forums for arts education and on cultural planning: Recent projects she has directed include “Silver Apples of the Moon”, a program of matching art and poetry. “Creative Essence ”examining the region’s creative essence through 22 hours of public discussion resulted in the video, books and a website for use in teaching about the region’s art www.clevelandartandhistory.org, history, and architecture www.architectureofcleveland.com.

Nina Freedlander Gibans has served on many panels, boards and committees of local, state and national cultural and civic organizations. She has received a national award for arts management, individual grants for research, writing and media interpretation of arts issues and the Distinguished Alumna Award from Laurel School in 2000.

Official site


by Nina Gibans

There is something about opening an envelope
from a friend
written in hand
stained with a raindrop
slipped through the door
so the dog will not run out
barking and leaping.

I sit at the table
to read and reread.
I know the handwriting
read what I want to hear
say what I think
to myself, and
put it in my drawer
to season.

I will discover new words
tell you about friends who have missed you
give you that recipe I said I would send
plan as if tomorrow were yesterday
and you lived around the corner.
I will pick up the pieces that made us friends
and dust them off, gently.


Looking at the Morning Newspaper
by Nina Gibans

Sorting heroes
3000 in Iraq, one in each neighborhood in Cleveland, 20 a week in New York
Thousands in Somalia, a hundred in Afghanistan, 2 outside our window
Eyes brimming wet for one of them,
New numbers bring a new dozen.
Against my will,
“I’ll stop the papers,” I say
Tears and coffee stain today’s news.


by Nina Gibans

On the move; same time every day
Cornerstone of my traffic life.

The mark of our times on city walls
more than sunlit shapes, angles of the mind.
The "letters" of this month;
three blocks; ads for unity, media and credit
supersounds from open windows
invade the early spring.

Messages caught in the mirror
of my car as I read them backwards
Stereo sounds into the sunset.


Peeling Away the Day
by Nina Gibans

Peeling away the day
over a sink-full of orange skins
the fruit is still sweet
oozing juice into
a fractured psyche.
I’ve just read the front-page news
cutting into what was my sweet self.

It’s that way with all of us
under the surface of everydayness
intonations about an all right world
that isn’t all right for anyone.
throbbing through to my bone.

I daydream and sleepwalk
through ghost images under siege
numb to my bleeding hand.


Scratching Surfaces
by Nina Gibans

Like birds after worms
Pecking after rain.
Like dogs after bones
Scratching the earth
Sniffing under papers
Invading our memories
Forcing smiles
Re-telling old stories.
Is there a new way to look
For peace?


On These Roads
by Nina Gibans

These are my roads
I thought I knew where I was going
I talk above the radio
Where was it we were going?
Where we have been?
Where might we go?
B takes roads with stop-lights
I go scenically, tree-lined
Stop-signs, cross roads.
Take caution.
The back seat is always full
A. Soccer fatigue, C. baseball gloves on hands
Green and trees give me peace.


Erie Days
by Nina Gibans

in December
No freeze yet. I’ve been waiting.
Brought in dill, brought in parsley
the garden cannot rest
this season-- It is time
everyday it is time and I look to see what outgrew itself
went on and on everyday a workday
pink rose now opening in a cool room
perfuming Fall beyond expectation--beyond.

In January
First, the snow tickled the trees
And then they stiffened,
hair-sprayed until the sun seeped
into the boughs moving them
just enough to blur what was
memorable. The day dulled into
heavy wet pelting white.
Winter came forcefully and I forgot what Fall was like.

The year in the month of March
Drizzling in its sweet-sour way on left-over snows,
slush lines move in sidewalk streams,
footprints quiver with indecision as night-light in the rain
blurs and stretches out into the darkness.
Hazy spray-painted lights pass through the moon.

It is March.

The sun, when it shines, starts anew
an uneasy scan on washed-over winter
as streams of light stretch the sky.
The plumb line swings over swollen grounds.
Time is the dissenter. Time and Spring.
It is March.