The global initiative Poetry X Hunger is establishing a platform for artists, activists, and professionals to create poetry, raise awareness, and inspire action to end food insecurity.
Poetry X Hunger was founded in 2017 by Hiram Larew, who believes that hunger is a more complex issue than graphs and statistics suggest. He thinks it is one of the most intimate struggles humanity faces and its pain can only be truly understood first-hand or through powerful artwork.
“Poetry can break through and appeal to a different part of our human nature than science,” Larew tells Food Tank. “We need both – we need the logic, straightforwardness, and clarity of data, but we also need to pull the heartstrings and touch the emotive dimension.”
Prior to founding the initiative, Larew’s career focused on agricultural innovations and hunger alleviation as Director of International Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
The Poetry X Hunger initiative works to inspire individuals to write poetry on their experience with hunger. Everyone from international youth to Washington, D.C. decision-makers are represented in featured poems on the organization’s website. Visitors can also find writing prompts and other resources to get involved.
Poetry X Hunger partners with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to host the annual World Food Day Poetry Competition, which celebrates poets communicating the urgency of hunger and malnutrition globally. The competition provides stakeholders and policymakers with material that they can incorporate into their appeals and outreach as they work towards achieving Zero Hunger.
The initiative also partners with the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. which hosted Virginia-based poet Aaron R as the first ever Poet in Residence in 2020. More recently, Poetry X Hunger coordinated a poetry café and open mic during Pennsylvania State University’s Global Learning in Agriculture Week.
Larew says that over the next few years, he would like to see more organizations use poetry to address issues of food insecurity. He tells Food Tank that he hopes it becomes “second nature to utilize poems and art in the anti-hunger cause worldwide.”
“For a lovely bowl
Let us arrange these flowers…
For there is no rice”
― Bashō, Japanese Haiku
Photo courtesy of Brad Neathery, Unsplash.