I come across organizations to write about in a variety of ways; random searches, suggestions, my own experiences, and happening upon them, to name a few. Today’s post falls into that “happening upon them” category. I actually saw someone mention the Cancer Poetry Project on a chalk board at a local coffee house and after looking into it, I decided that it would make a great story for The Blogunteer.
When Karin Miller was expecting her first child, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. This took Karin on an emotional roller coaster and she turned to writing poetry to help sort out her feelings. After her husband went into remission and her daughter was born, she kept writing poetry. One morning she woke up with the idea of creating a poetry book written by a variety of people who have been touched by cancer. She told me that “it felt like a calling.”
The Cancer Poetry Project book was published in September 2007. The profits from the book go toward cancer organizations. The two of Karin’s favorite organizations that have been supported by the book are Gilda’s Club and Cancer Legal Line. Karin is currently working on a second volume to be published in early 2013 which will include about 140 poems selected from over 1,000 submitted poems. The top 12 poems chosen received a cash prize plus each were able select their favorite cancer organization to give a donation in his or her name.
Every poem in both volumes is followed by a brief bio of the poet including who he or she wrote the poem about and why the situation moved them to the write the poem. Karin mentioned, “I like to provide context for each poem.” She also mentioned that readers often tell her how much it means to them to understand the stories behind the poems.
One poem was written by a woman who met her current husband after her children suggested she meet their friend’s dad. He had also just lost his spouse to cancer. They met to talk, eventually fell in love, and now have been married many years. One poem included in the second volume was written by a five year old boy about his mother’s breast cancer.
Many poems included have been written by people who have never written poetry until a cancer diagnosis of their own or a loved one. Karin states, “It’s so exciting to call someone and let them know they’re going to be a published poet.” A few poets have gone on to get publishing contracts or be featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Writer’s Almanac.
You can help spread the word about this collection of poems by buying a copy for yourself or in memory of a loved one. You can also have a copy sent to a favorite clinic, hospital, physician, or nurse. Poetry offers a great addition to the lobbies and waiting rooms of hospitals. Reading the poems in this book helps people feel not so alone during their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Readers, even those who have never read poetry, are sometimes surprised to find poems that resonate so well.
You can learn more and purchase the current book, The Cancer Poetry Project, on their website, cancerpoetryproject.com. You can also purchase the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also connect with The Cancer Poetry Project on Twitter and Facebook.