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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.

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