One Smalle Ladleful: Poetry of Hunger
From Hiram Larew (MS Botany, 1977; PhD Entomology, 1981);
Courtesy Professor in Botany and Plant Pathology
For those of us who have never been hungry, the trends are hard to believe. More and more of our friends, cousins, co-workers, team mates and so many others experience hunger. Within our communities, states, the U.S. and around the world, hunger continues to undercut the future of all too many.
Efforts to prevent hunger rely on data, research, and statistics to catch attention, develop and describe responses, and raise alarms. No one questions the importance of such science-based information that is grounded in agricultural and nutritional surveys and studies. There are, however, additional non-traditional ways to reach hearts and minds in the fight against hunger. The arts, for example, often grab the public’s attention in surprising and potent ways.
Realizing that the written arts, especially poetry, can powerfully rouse public attention, we (Hiram Larew and Stella Coakley) collaborated with the Honors College to offer the first-ever poetry of hunger colloquium “One Smalle Ladleful: Poetry of Hunger” during Fall Term 2019 and will oversee a student project that emanated from that class in Spring 2020. The colloquium will be offered again in Fall 2020. Students study local, regional and international hunger alongside historical and contemporary poems about it. They analyze some of the fundamentals of hunger including production and consumption, and also historical and current accounts of hunger, famine and starvation. At the same time, they consider the many ways that poetry can speak up against hunger, and how poetry’s form and the way it is presented (written, spoken, performed) can impact the reader/listener differently. A field trip to the OSU Food Pantry also gives students the chance to reflect on hunger as it occurs locally—and to write reflectively about it. Finally, to activate their insights, students plan a hunger-focused poetry event on campus or in Corvallis.
If you are on the Corvallis campus for the next Beaver DAM Proud Day on April 30, look for a booth on the Memorial Union Quad which will showcase one of our students doing a “Chalk the walk with poetry” in support of the OSU Food Pantry and its fund raising efforts to address student food insufficiency.
On a National basis, check out https://www.poetryxhunger.com/ to see how awareness can be raised. Consider writing a poem and submitting it to that website.