Poetry X Hunger: Fighting Hunger with Poetry
Hunger in the U.S. and around the world is on the rise. Beyond longstanding levels of hunger, the pandemic is putting millions more at risk. This, when groups like Bread for the World indicate that hunger should be entirely preventable.
While all kinds of traditional tools – science-centered, environmentally-attuned, economically-savvy, and/or culturally appropriate – are being used to reduce hunger, headway in this struggle is going to require help from all quarters, including the arts. That’s why I started an informal initiative called Poetry X Hunger – to enlist the help of poets in the fight against hunger.
Over the years, poetry has been used very effectively to raise awareness and concern over many other social issues like homelessness, social inequity and racial bias. But, it hasn’t been as intentionally brought to bear in the fight against hunger. Poetry X Hunger is focused on changing that. By rousing powerful poetic voices to the cause, the initiative is bringing poetry to the anti-hunger cause.
To find out more, take a minute to visit the Poetry X Hunger website at PoetryXHunger.com where lots of info is posted including poems by several poets from the U.S. and Africa along with hunger facts, historical accounts of hunger, and other prompts for poets. One important spot on the site, the Now More than Ever page, contains poems about pandemic-related hunger. Along with the text, audio files of the poets reading their work are posted as well.
And hey, feel free to send in a poem for possible posting!!
I appreciate the Maryland State Arts Council’s support for development of the website as expertly designed by Dr. Tatiana LeGrand with input from Dr. Sue Schram and many others. I also thank the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s North American Liaison Office for supporting the 2018, 2019 and 2020 World Food Day Poetry Competitions as implemented by Poetry X Hunger. The Capital Area Food Bank and Split This Rock are also important partners.
Hiram Larew at firstname.lastname@example.org
Designed as a facilitated once-a-week 5-week course that includes 1) an introduction to hunger trends and to poetry written in response to hunger, 2) a visit to the OSU Food Pantry to journal impressions, insights and reactions; use such reflections to write poems about hunger, 3) a review of historical and contemporary poetry written in response to hunger, 4) a scan of historical and contemporary global hunger issues and poetry written in response to it, and 5) a presentation of plans for a relevant stakeholder hunger-focused poetry activity.
The overall intent of this 5-week discussion is to increase awareness by both the students and the facilitator about poetry’s response to local and worldwide hunger. Beginning with a scan of the hunger landscape that includes facts, history and culture, the class will then consider how an art-form that is often considered contemplative, introspective, even shy – namely, poetry – may be powerfully brought to bear. Included will be introductions to and reflections on active hunger organizations. Students will also search for and discuss poetry about historic famines, about fasting, and about current hunger in the U.S. In addition to writing relevant poetry, students will plan/describe an outreach activity that involves poetry in service to the fight against hunger. The overall goal is to finish the class as an opening -- with a enlivened sense of what can be done using available poetry tools, with a respect for the many questions that will remain unanswered, and most of all, with a desire to keep going.