Saturday, December 23, 2023



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Well, 2023 has been quite the year for Poetry X Hunger and its poets! I don’t have what it takes to list all the accomplishments, but I can touch on a few of the highlights.

On the heels of the successful fundraising collaboration with Feed the Children and The Poartry Project in December of 2022, Poetry X Hunger continued its efforts to raise awareness as well as funds for many across the globe who are hungry. I’ve provided a few highlights below.

In 2023, Poetry X Hunger teamed up once again with Feed the Children to produce an awareness and fundraising video which used Josephine Lore’s poem Enough (first published on as the foundation of the video. According to a missive from Feed the Children, the video’s “potential reach is typically 121M [as in million!] with the US National distribution…” resulting from the video's distribution to “429 outlets” on September 6, 2023.

And Josephine’s poetry was not carrying the anti-hunger banner by itself. Another example of a Poetry X Hunger poet making a difference is Patti Ross, who was named the first Poet in Residence at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Her poetry was featured on the food bank’s website in July.

Among Poetry X Hunger’s most gratifying efforts in 2023, was the Hunger Action Day event in September, where Poetry X Hunger poets joined with Seed Programs International and SCINE- Sustainable Community Initiative for Empowerment to raise funds for school gardens in Uganda. Actual funds raised exceeded the event’s goals, supporting the potential creation of three school gardens instead of the projected one. You can view a video of the event here and read more about the initiative on the Poetry X Hunger blog here.

Consistent with its efforts to join hands with all organizations that are willing to use poetry to enhance the human condition, in November 2023, Poetry X Hunger embraced the opportunity to participate in NatureCulture’s Authors & Artists Festival 2023: Rewilding. Several Poetry X Hunger poets read hunger poetry in a segment of the festival dedicated to hunger poetry. You can view a video of the Poetry X Hunger segment here, and here is a link to the playlist for all of the 2023 Authors & Artists Festival videos. For Facebook users, there is plenty to be found on NatureCulture’s facebook page.

Poetry X Hunger also joined forces with Global Learning in Agriculture (GLAG), a Pennsylvania State University initiative, whose mission is to “..empower educators through quality professional development in global agriculture and food security.” The purpose of the collaboration is to engage and assist teaching professionals in using poetry in the various ways it can be used in the global effort to alleviate hunger. Here’s a video of Hiram with key members of the GLAG team discussing the role that poetry can play.

It feels like I could go on indefinitely, but I’ll close with Poetry X Hunger’s May 2023 collaboration in the Conversations on Food Justice series, which is spearheaded by Share Our Strength and Food & Society at the Aspen Institute. According to Share Our Strength’s website, the series is, “…an ongoing speaking series that examines the roots and evolution of the food justice movement and its connection to race and class, health, education and the environment.”  You can read more about Poetry X Hunger’s participation in that conversation here.

It appears that Poetry X Hunger’s influence continues to grow and is likely to continue growing in 2024. For example, just recently, Francesca Saracino, Coordinator, Clio Health, invited Poetry X Hunger to submit the Feed the Children video, If Words Were Enough, for the 2024 Clio Health Awards, and Feed the Children has indicated that the organization will submit the video for consideration. How cool is that!

I wish I had it in me to truly detail all the terrific things Hiram Larew and Poetry X Hunger have been involved in this year, and I’m glad that you don’t have to rely on me and can find most of what transpires in the realm of Poetry X Hunger on the Poetry X hunger blog and its Facebook page.

In closing, I am truly grateful for the opportunities I have had to contribute to the public good through my affiliation with Hiram Larew and Poetry X Hunger! If I had a wish for 2024 it would be that more of the poets whose poetry is featured among the approximately 400 poems published on would engage more with the website, events, the Facebook group and the Facebook page. Thanks to those of you who did in 2023!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023


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These days, when we see the word “conviction,” chances are good that it involves a politician, or some other celebrity being found guilty of a crime of some sort. It’s refreshing that the “conviction” in Wild Conviction has little to do with celebrities committing crimes, and more to do with inner conviction, with commitment to acting in ways that are consistent with one’s words and professed beliefs.

That is not to say that Wild Conviction is crime free. Au contraire mes amis. The entire context of the novel is embedded in two of humanity’s most egregious crimes: the slave trade and war- the US slave trade and Civil War to be precise. Oh no! Not another book about slavery and the Civil War! Well, it is, but it is also about so much more than either of those atrocities.

Being a poet as well as fiction writer, Dr. Mary Dezember employs language, prosaic and poetic, to focus a different lens on the Civil War era. Dezember’s Wild Conviction shifts the focus from a familiar perspective–perhaps even one we’re inured to–to that of a heroic, teenaged girl whose personality and character, whose identity, whose very life collides with her era, its institutions, values, and mores.

Romance, history, social and personal conflict, family secrets, questions of faith, identity, and coming of age, and even a smidge of magic, populate Wild Conviction’s pages. As I noted in a
previous take on Wild Conviction, Dezember doesn’t shy away from issues of “race” and “gender” in this work, but she offers a slightly different take than most. 

You recognize that, almost immediately, in her use of the terms “Rich-tone” and “Pale” in place of the common “Black” and “White” used to categorize people of African and European descent. I don’t think you need a social science degree to identify which term applies to which social group, right? My notions about that language twist would require an entire post, and that’s not my focus here.

What is my focus here is that Wild Conviction makes it quite evident–through main character Twilight’s teenaged voice–that Mary Dezember cares about the human condition, cares about equality, and believes in concepts that may seem outdated to many: integrity, honesty, and commitment to a mode of being just because it is “right.” There is no doubt about Twilight’s and Dezember’s message, and at times it is delivered with the fervor of your favorite reverend…if you have such a thing.

No, there is no doubt about where the characters in the novel stand, and standing firmest of all, through myriad trials and tribulations is Twilight, bolstered by her magic mare, Spirit. Through her travels in time and space (the story spans three-plus years and is set primarily in Tennessee and Indiana), Twilight confronts not only the “Pale-male” dominated world around her, but herself as well. As the story develops, Twilight is compelled to reckon with her family history, her beliefs, and values, and whether she is acting in accord with those beliefs and values.

Although billed as a novel for young adults with “adult cross
over appeal,” and shades of “low historical fantasy,” the themes addressed, and the literary style of the book suggest mid-to-late-teens and adults as audiences. In addition to the successful age crossover, the infusion of diverse cultural and gender appeal is no mean feat, especially for a debut novelist! 

Yes, Wild Conviction is a triumph of the "Triple D Principle" required for producing a work of this magnitude: Desire, Dedication, and Discipline. Mary Dezember has created a tour de force featuring a strong young woman who displays integrity, independence, empathy, and a commitment to equality—a necessary role model for today's world and any other.

Keep in mind, if happily ever after is your thing, Wild Conviction might be bitter brew for you. If you’re not averse to reading about life’s capricious cruelties, and characters having to trudge on through tragedy, snuggle up with Twilight and Mary Dezember’s award-winning Wild Conviction! You can be among the first wave of Wild Conviction's readers by picking up a copy of the paperback, e-book, or hardcover now on 

Monday, May 29, 2023


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I’m not big on programs or events that separate human beings into categories by immutable and primarily surface characteristics (boys-girls, Blacks-Whites, etc.), but just because I’m weird doesn’t mean you have to be, so  below, I’m sharing what promises to be a tremendous poetic event. Why do I think so?

Miss Kiane
Well, Hiram Larew and Miss Kiane are hosting, and that in and of itself would be enough to tip me off. But I hear that former poet laureate of Prince Georges County, Maryland, Sistah Joy Alford will be making an appearance, and that cemented it for me. Sistah Joy is a bundle of talent and class all wrapped up into one inspiring package!

I’m talking about the “Filling the WELL: Poetry and Prose of the Soul Fundraiser.” Presented by The InkWELL, led by founder Dinahsta “Miss Kiane” Thomas. Expected to feature are “teen poet, Lemonade Dream, musical poet and Chicagoan, Donovan Lewis, world traveler and author, Dr. Cecelia S. Martin, and DMV food activist and poet, Liz Reitzig.” Thanks Miss Kiane for creating this promising poetic experience and thank you Hiram for pulling my coat to it. You can complete your free registration and find out more about the event here.

I had what feels like rare poetic experiences this weekend. Friday night was the two-year anniversary of the Friday Collapse, hosted by E. Lynn Alexander and Paul Corman-Roberts of Collapse Press, and there’s no way I could miss that. Generalisimo Bryan Franco and I co-featured at The Friday Collapse in July 2022, and it was one of the most enriching experiences of my short poetry featuring phase. Thanks for the heads-up General. If you missed it last night, you can catch it here.

And then, as though I were trying to make up for lost time, on Saturday, I made another rare appearance at Poetry Street on the Road. My man Chip Williford didn’t have one of his usual co-hosts, Maggie Bloomfield, but we did have Clare Marie Lundberg with him to guide us through. Two stellar poets, Judy J R Turek and Maya Dreamwalker, were featured, and the hybrid open mic segment was precious. And wouldn’t you know it, Facebook just reminded me that today’s date (5/28) was the one-year anniversary of my very first feature, which was on Poetry Street.

Sadly enough, I missed Mbonisi Zikhali Zomkhonto’s recital at the Inspired Poetry Corner(IPC) this morning (now yesterday morning). To have missed that one is painful, because…well, you probably know all about Mbonisi’s genius, so you know why I’m bumming about missing it. Fortunately, IPC’s splendid and conscientious host, Rawle Iam James, usually posts the IPC featured events, so we should be able to catch it here soon.

I don't know when I'll be taking such a dive into the poetry pool again, but this weekend's dip was refreshing. Thanks to all involved!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


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In a World of Hurt (Dark Haiku Book 4) by OIC Studios founder and renowned SpoFest Poetry and Prose founder and host James Bryant is on the virtual shelf and ready for your appreciation of darkness. James’ most recent collection of dark haiku skulks in the shadows of his other three dark haiku collections, In the Dead of Night (Dark Haiku Book 1), You Dark Up My Life (Dark Haiku Book 2), and Suffer for Supper (Dark Haiku Book 3). It was almost a year ago when I published my first response to the first two collections in James’ dark Haiku series, so it feels fitting to respond to the most recent publications now.

In Suffer for Supper, as usual James straddles a thick dark line with his Haiku, sticking to one “rule,” while crushing others. Who rhymes in Haiku? James does: Gone without a trace//years later they find bodies//stuffed in a crawlspace. And Dropping to all fours//I cannot resist the pull//when the moon is full. Surely he’s a lunatic! But he sticks with the 5-7-5 syllabic format that’s the skin of original Haiku—flayed skin these days—but still, that’s how original Haiku was wrapped according to what I’ve read and heard.

So okay, we’ve got rhyming Haiku (which I’m absolutely fine with, by the way), but James doesn’t stop there with his use of “no-nos.” He throws in some enjambment, the use of which I’ve heard some purists frown upon in poems that aren’t Haiku much less…Anyway, James employs enjambment as a tool to maintain his 5-7-5 format: Starving for the pain//hungry for the hurt, I need//suffer for supper. Digest that if you can.

Listen, James and I are brothers in darkness, so it should be no surprise that Deadly devotion//a riptide of emotions//pulling me under and A familiar trope//living without hope, dying//without a purpose are a couple of my favorites in the Suffer for Supper volume. But I imagine that many in our world of "nicey-nice" and fluff won’t appreciate fare such as, As I slice my wrist//I let out a scream, sweet dreams//are not made of this. Leave it to James to throw some pop music references into this revered genre collection— and that’s not the only one.

If you are looking for the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when you close the curtain…or perhaps I should write, slam the lid of the coffin shut...on Suffer for Supper and pick up In a World of Hurt, you’ll only find a dark red one glowing menacingly. How about this for a welcome mat: A restless spirit//knocking, my heart, haunted house//boarded up, vacant? I hope you brought a bottle of wine with you, something red and dark, with a heavy bouquet.

Our culture frowns, and I mean deeply, on doing away with oneself. There is even a movement to soften how we talk about suicide (see this article). I’m gratified that James does nothing to pretty up the ugly truth of dire feelings, dropping the following on us: My blood, letting go//with relief comes disbelief//no turning back now. I suspect that most who have tried death-by-sharp-object-against-throbbing-vein and didn’t quite succeed will shiver in recognition at the above. And I bet you've noticed that James has not let up on his rule-breaking in World of Hurt.

And oh, for those who are feeling the most poignant of losses, he dishes up In the blue hour//my heart is full of empty//without you and me. And The love of my life//speaking ill of me, sweet mouth//so wholly corrupt…Just let that heart bleed. 

And the final appetizer I’ll leave you with, is one that I read more as social commentary than personal pleadings of despair: Opening my eyes//Pandora’s box of evil//truths, half truths and lies. We often prefer pretty lies than ugly truth. I'm sure someone has said and written that somewhere before. Can't remember who. Anyway....

No, James Bryant’s Dark Haiku series isn’t for those seeking to smell the roses, those who are convinced that life is full of sunshine, gently flowing streams, and blooming gardens. It is visceral, spilling desperate raw emotion onto the landscape of our hidden world of hurt. But what else do you expect from a genius who sees more as a blind man than most with sound eyesight?

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


If you haven’t read Hiram Larew before, put on your cryptogram-breaking hat, empty your mind of anything resembling normal, and fire up your imagination engine. Do that, and your ears will be grinning all over the place, and your drip of a smile just might become a gusher. If you have read Hiram before, then you know what I am going on about. But his sixth offering, Patchy Ways from (2023), might just be his most entertaining.

It is practically impossible for me to read Hiram without a smile, without chuckles leaking out the sides because doggone it, I’d like to go back to “apron time” “when all wooden spoons stirred the morning.” It’ll take but one poem, to clue you in, the opening poem that is then “And Now,” defying time and grinding the rules of grammar into dusty fields of wonder.

How can you not chuckle when you read this stanza from Roy (p.10)?

And at 14 or 15 all your friends

             are popcorn            

Or all of a sudden notice

            that that dot in the distance

             just waved.

And if you haven't awakened your imagination by the time you've reached p.12, A Corner Life will dash some cold water in its face. Go ahead. I dare you to decipher this using your everyday mind: 


Clocks seem full of know –

They turn stars to wise

          or sweep past lovely fears

They even chime the blue

        like vines at dawn.

So how did that go for you? Now read it aloud and experience the Hiram Larew magic. This is just my opinion mind you– after having read his previous five collections, but Patchy Ways is Hiram's most sonorous work to date. 

Stephanie Niles once said to me, "There isn't a poem in every story, but there's a story in every poem." Sometimes it can be challenging to find the stories in poems. But in every collection, Hiram offers up at least one poetic story with a memorable character that smiles or groans you, and a telling event that plucks heartstrings.

In Uncle Never (p.14), Hiram draws up a character that will grin you all over the place: 

He snuck in when no one was looking

Slipped in unnoticed

        just like a noontime shadow

And in Lazy Beds (p.19) we are treated to one of Hiram's favorite story topics, the Irish famine:

There was nothing romantic about them --

        no misty aura or smoke or dreams

        no bedtime stories

They beckoned no fairies to hover

        and plucked no harps

Anyone who knows Hiram personally knows that his spin on things is usually on the positive side. But in reading or listening to Hiram's poetry, you realize that he doesn't want you to think that everything is peaches and cream and grinning fields (maybe apples would be more appropriate than peaches, knowing Hiram). Oh no! Hiram throws a bit of spite at you like cotton candy mud looking for a wholly wall. 

In Spite (p.21) he delivers

What a day it's been --

        with every ornery stepping forward

It started with a hole that should have been 

        butter to dig

        but was cussed with rocks. 

And if you're reading even close to carefully, you'll note that Hiram himself is undercover ornery. Bicker (p.22) argues you right into that mist of understanding, suggesting that you should treasure bad apples and thrive on mistakes and praise fail. That sounds pretty ornery to me, but I have no desire to bicker with you or Hiram, lest my days veer off with shouldn’t bes. And tell me, just how profound is

 It takes all of your tripping then falling

        to get to the sloppy good grace

        of a fine giving in.

You might have to read the entire piece to grasp its full profundity. Like the poetic magician that he is, Hiram employs slight of word to make you wonder and wander down a mysterious lane carved out of a multihued landscape. 

Listen, I could wax ecstatic for days about Patchy Ways and the barrel of rosy red apples it offers up for your ears and eyes to savor. But doggone it, just read the dang thing and you'll see what I am hopelessly trying to convey. Patchy Ways gets my thumb's (and every other finger except that one) up!

By the way, if click on The Poet and the Poem link below, you'll be in for a treat with Hiram and Grace Cavalieri spending poetic time together on her decades long program, The Poet and the Poem. When two poetic giants seed the landscape, we all grow!

Thursday, March 2, 2023


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Back in September of 2022, I blogged about guest hosting the Poetry Bread Presents radio show on 89.1 Silver City. The show was inspired by another program and the group of poets I had listened to on that show. The program was The Poet and the Poem hosted by Grace Cavalieri. The group of poets was and still is known as Collective Voices, and includes Sylvia “Ladi Di” Beverly, AndrĂ© Brenardo Taylor, and Sistah Joy Alford, a triumvirate of distinguished poets from Maryland and Washington DC in the US.

Well, this Saturday, March 4, at 8:00 PM eastern time US, Collective Voices will appear on Quintessential Listening: Poetry Online Radio hosted by Dr Michael Anthony Ingram to celebrate their 25th anniversary. If you know me you know the tremendous respect I have for Michael and the show that brings us as diverse a group of poetic artists as you’re likely to find anywhere.

I call the poets who constitute Collective Voices “message poets” because in addition to superb craft, they deliver poignant and timely messages through their work. If you haven’t heard them yet, Saturday would be as good a time as any.

Sunday, February 12, 2023


Those who are close to me have surely heard me gripe about life as it is and what I perceive to be humanity's tragic trajectory. But I hope they've also heard me express my overwhelming gratitude for my life experiences and most importantly the incredible people with whom I’ve shared those experiences.

JC Wayne
Just two months ago I was fortunate to share one of those invaluable, treasure trove life experiences with JC Wayne and Hiram Larew, as we collaborated with a group of talented artists and poets to raise funds for Feed the Children.
I’m not sure how much attention you paid to those two individuals who have been real forces for “good” for decades, but I hope you’ll indulge me and take a moment to pay attention to what they are up to now.

Always responsive to those in need, JC Wayne has brought her creative genius to bear with the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria in mind:

There is a backstory to every piece of art created, and JC is one artist who is ever willing to share the backstory of her work: For that as well I am grateful.

And although there is no such thing as “finally” with JC, there is for me, so finally, here is a peek at her most recent solo art exhibit at the Pierson Library in Shelburne, Vermont: I wish I could be in that space soaking in the vibrancy of these works, but alas…

Although in a different vein, soon, I expect to be asking you to turn your attention to Hiram’s upcoming contribution to the world of poetry, his newest collection: Patchy Ways. Hiram’s singular style is as evident as ever in this upcoming creation.

For those who are following our medical saga, Stephanie is currently at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico in Las Cruces, NM and is likely to be there at least through the end of this
week. She expresses great appreciation for the staff at the facility as she has for the staff at the University Medical Center of El Paso, where we both underwent surgical procedures.

I have had the extremely good fortune of having renowned potter Kate Brown host me in as special a community as I’ve found, and whose members have provided me as enriching a refuge for healing as I could possibly ask for! Former nurse Susan Malter has been extremely generous with her time and energy, dropping by to change my dressings daily, and other community members have provided both physical and psycho-emotional nourishment to facilitate healing.

Our cups of gratitude runneth over!



  Note: Please click on photos for enhanced viewing Well, 2023 has been quite the year for Poetry X Hunger and its poets! I don’t have what...