Skip to content

Philippine Relief: California state poet laureate launches poetry project for survivors

November 20, 2013



From UC Riverside: “California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera has created a poetry project that asks for poems for the Philippines in the wake of the mega storm that wiped out entire communities.
Hawak Kamay: Poems for the Philippines After Haiyan,” is a disaster-relief project started by Herrera, professor of creative writing at UC Riverside. The phrase “hawak kamay” means “to hold hands” in Filipino.
This kind of poetry campaign has been a regular feature of Herrera’s time as California Poet Laureate.

He has created other pages to offer poetry for the people of Newtown, CT after the school shooting; Poems for Boston after the bombing; and he has a poetry project related to combatting school bullying. All of them together will be part of the “Most Incredible and Biggest Poem on Unity in the World.”
The Hawak Kamay poetry project and facebook group are open to everyone, and in many cases it is the friends and farflung relatives who are sending poems of hope, calming their own anxieties as they seek to communicate.
Healing and inspirational poems can be posted directly to the page buy clicking here, or emailed to”
Readers can browse selected poems via the Hawak Kamay Twitter feed @haiyanpoems.


Administrators of the facebook group are Juan Felipe Herrera (founder of the project), Vince Gotera (creator of the group), Barbara Jane Reyes (admin), Arlene Biala (admin), Aldin Enriquez (admin), Su Layug (admin), Christine Lux (admin) and JoAnn Balingit (admin). JoAnn is the Poet Laureate of Delaware.


A Timely Poem By Dick Allen, Poet Laureate of Connecticut

July 28, 2012

Dick Allen, Poet Laureate of Connecticut, recently shared this poem that he wrote some years back, plus this quote from John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado: “I refuse to say his name, in my house, we’re just going to call him Suspect A.”

A Curse

We will not toss a fig to, nor remember

The thieving CEO, the slipshod builder,

Dope-pusher, crack-smoker, Mafia mobster.

We want to hear their names no more.


Smudges on the landscape, insects in dogs’ fur,

The drunken driver, the occasional wife beater,

The sniper crawling out from under God knows where,

We want to hear their names no more.


Mad or not, the serial axe-murderer,

The airplane hijacker, the suicide bomber,

Who cares what sad lost shapes their childhoods were?

We want to hear their names no more.


Let them be swept up by some janitor

And never mentioned in a single prayer.

Let every feature of them disappear.

We want to hear their names no more.


For they are dung and spit and gelatin and scar,

The dribble soaked into a chewed cigar,

Old knots in dirty hair, crepuscular.

We want to hear their names no more.


                                      -Dick Allen

                                        Present Vanishing (Sarabande Books, 2008)

News from Delaware: JoAnn Balingit

October 20, 2011

JoAnn Balingit with the Rhode Island Poet Laureate, Lisa Starr, in New Hamsphire for the Poetry & Politics conference

JoAnn Balingit, poet laureate of Delaware, reports that her newest chapbook, Forage, is now available from Wings Press as a hand-sewn edition and in ebook editions.
She also shared news that the Delaware Division of the Arts has sponsored her local branch of the National League of American Pen Women to become an affiliate of the Alliance of Young Artists and Writers. “Thus we can revive the Delaware Scholastic Writing Awards in 2012, to recognize Delaware’s talented 7th through 12th grade writers with awards and possible scholarships.” See more on this at

Poetry & Politics Conference With 12 Poets Laureate in New Hampshire

October 20, 2011

(from left) Dave Parsons, JoAnn Balingit, Bruce Dethlefsen, Lisa Starr, Walter Butts, Marjory Wentworth, Dick Allen, Julie Kane, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg & Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

A dozen of us gathered in Concord, NH Oct. 13-16 to explore and celebrate poetry as it relates to politics, community, social change    Sponsored and organized by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, especially by its director George Geers in concert with NH Poet Laureate Walter Butts, the event sent us on the road on Oct. 14 to read with superb NH poets throughout the state, and then on Oct. 15, we participated in panels as part of an all-day conference on Poetry and Politics. The event was capped by a reading featuring all of us, and afterwards, we met to plan future gatherings, events and project.

Participating poets laureate were:

  • Dick Allen, Connecticut
  • JoAnn Ballingit, Delaware
  • Walter E. Butts, New Hampshire
  • Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin
  • Marie Harris, New Hampshire
  • Julie Kane, Louisiana
  • Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Virginia
  • Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Kansas
  • David M. Parsons, Texas
  • Betsy Sholl, Maine
  • Lisa Starr, Rhode Island
  • Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina

Poetry AND Politics: “On the Road” Friday, October 14, 2011 — here where we went:

Poet(s) Laureate: Walter E. Butts (NH), Richard Allen (CT), Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (VA) and Marie Harris (NH)
Local Poet(s): Faculty and student poets
Venue: Southern New Hampshire University, Robert Frost Building, Walker Auditorium

Poet(s) Laureate: Julie Kane (LA) and Lisa Starr (RI)
Local Poet(s): Catherine O’Brian
Venue: Concord Public Library, Auditorium
Time: 10:15 a.m. to Noon

Poet(s) Laureate: Walter E. Butts (NH) and Richard Allen (CT)
Local Poet(s): Faculty and student poets
Venue: New England College, Simon Center, Great Room

Poet(s) Laureate: Bruce Dethlefsen (WI)
Local Poet(s): Maudelle Driskill
Venue: Abbey Greenleaf Library (in downtown Franconia)

Poet(s) Laureate: Dave Parsons (TX)
Local Poet(s): Rodger Martin, Jim Duffy, Bill Doreski and Jeff Friedman
Venue: Keene State College, Mountain View Room, 3rd floor, Student Union Building

Poet(s) Laureate: Caryn Miriam Goldberg (KS)
Local Poet(s): Peter Money and  April Ossman
Venue: Lebanon Community College, Auditorium

Poet(s) Laureate: Betsy Sholl (ME) and Marjory Wentworth (SC)
Local Poet(s): S. Stephanie and Sid Hall
Venue: Toadstool Book Store in Milford

Panels at the Poetry & Politics Conference, Oct. 14th:

9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Poetry & Community – with David M. Parsons, JoAnn Balingit, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Lisa Starr, Betsy Sholl: What is the role of poetry in the community? What are possible activities that might be undertaken on national, regional, and local levels?  We’ll discuss existing community building programs and examine how they work. Panelists will provide information on programs within their respective states they’ve found particularly effective, followed by questions/answers.

11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – Poetry & Education – with Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Julie Kane, JoAnn Balingit, David M. Parsons: How might poetry be introduced into public school curriculum? We’ll discuss various poets in the schools programs, funding issues, and strategies for effectively integrating poetry within a larger educational context. This panel will include readings of student work from anthologies and other texts, and be followed by a Q&A.

1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Poetry & Social Justice – with Marjory Wentworth, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Walter Butts, Lisa Starr, Bruce Dethlefsen: How might poetry provide a discourse for social justice activism and address racism, environmental dangers, poverty and other troubling issues confronting our society?  We’ll read relevant poems, discuss existing programs in prisons, migrant camps, and urban centers, and examine matters of social responsibility, activism, and poetry. Followed by a Q&A.

2:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Poetry & Politcs – with Dick Allen, Marie Harris, Marjory Wentworth, Caryn-Mirrriam-Goldberg, Bruce Dethlefsen: This panel will continue the discussion begun at the 2003 first gathering of State Poets Laureate by then New Hampshire Poet Laureate Marie Harris. Once again we’ll explore poetry’s capacity to bring about social, political, and cultural change during these particularly challenging times. We’ll look at programs and activities that have emerged during the past decade, and consider poetry’s future role. Followed by a Q&A.

Poetry Month In Kansas And Beyond

March 28, 2011

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, the Poet Laureate of Kansas, shares her poetry month activities:

To the Stars Poetry Contest: Weekly poetry contests (two categories; professional and amateur writers) will begin April 1.

Kansas Daily Poem in Your Pocket: Receive a poem written by a Kansas poet along with a daily writing prompt each day of April by sending an email to or download poems from the KAC website.

150 Kansas Poems in 2011 to Celebrate Our Sesquicentennial: Subscribe, view regularly, and submit your own poetry. for details (click on “Guidelines” in upper right-hand corner for details on submitting poems).

Poet Laureati: A National Convergence of Poets Laureate: Learn details of the event. Listen to upcoming radio shows on this event, which happened March 13-14 in Lawrence. Visit United Poets Laureate.

An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate: The first-ever anthology of poetry from state poets laureate — almost 40 in all — was edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, plus three poets laureate emeritus Marilyn L. Taylor (Wisconsin), Walter Bargen (Missouri) and Denise Low (Kansas). Get your copy today through Ice Cube Books.

Other ways to celebrate:

  • Poet Laureate of Kansas: Learn about past and present Poet Laureates of Kansas.
  • Write From Your Life: Poet Laureate of Kansas Mirriam-Goldberg offers “Write From Your Life” monthly columns and podcasts offering writing inspiration and exercises to readers and listeners. She also offers National Poetry Month tips, links and writing exercises.
  • National Poem In Your Pocket Day: Keep a poem in your pocket on April 29 to hand out and scatter around businesses, homes and organizations.
  • Poem on the Range: If anyone should be doing Poem on the Range, it’s those of us who live where the deer and antelope play. Take photos of all that’s poetic to you, or make audio and video recordings, then upload them to a big map of Poems on the Range across America.
  • Poem a Day: Sign up to receive a daily poem via email.

March Mascot: Joyce Brinkman

March 20, 2011

After Poet Laureati, Joyce Brinkman, poet laureate emeritus of Indiana, wrote this poem about her experience and flight home.

March Mascot


Like a shiny gray bullet

Delta Flight 1890 speeds

along the runway, while

across a brown band of ground

above a parallel landing strip

a Kansas City hawk appears

to race the plane. Black-

kissed wing-tips dip and

lift as the raptor’s regal head

cuts into the air ahead.


When the weighty mechanical

bird takes flight, the hawk lowers

its dark tail-feathers to settle

on the lane of natural turf

between the two hardened

surfaces of white. Standing

erect, its soft white underbelly

ripples in wind currents and

lightens in the eastern sun.


After taking off with this avian

escort, it will be harder to root

against the Kansas Jayhawks.


What Are We Doing For Poetry Month?: Kelly Cherry in Virginia

March 18, 2011

As April — not so much the cruelest month as National poetry month — approaches, we will be sharing what we’re doing as poets laureate of our respective state.

Kelly Cherry, poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia,will be leading a bimonthly reminiscence group at a nursing home that draws on poetry. She’s also traveling near and far to give readings: to Halifax, VA as well as Madison, WI to read and also give a talk about poetry. In addition, she’ll be reading to pre-K children at a local education center, judging a poetry and a fiction competition, and writing two essays about poets. Learn more about Kelly’s writing at her new website,

You can also read some of Kelly’s poetry in An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate.