Out of the Depths: Poetry of Poverty--Courage and Resilience

Out of the Depths: Poetry of Poverty--Courage and Resilience

by Susan Deborah King (Editor)


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A project of the Poverty Initiative of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Out of the Depths: Poetry of Poverty—Courage and Resilience is a compelling anthology of over one hundred poems by well-known poets (such as Martin Espada, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gregory Orr, Marilyn Nelson, Wesley McNair, Brendan Galvin, Julia Alverez, Natasha Tretheway, and Kevin Young) as well as emerging poets and those never before published about firsthand experiences of poverty.

While the poets hail from diverse locations, cultures, and ethnicities, their work shares common elements of vivid detail, determination of spirit (either quiet or passionate), and compelling artistry.


Michael Glaser

"God is resident in all faces."—Abraham Joshua Heschel

God challenges our faith
with the face of poverty,

brings us to the altar
of our own emptiness

and asks us if we have the courage
to look at this

and bear witness.

Susan Deborah King is the author of five poetry collections including Coven, One-Breasted Woman, Bog Orchards, and Dropping into the Flower. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Tar Rivers Review, Prairie Schooner, and the Willow Review. She teaches creative writing and leads retreats on spirituality and creativity in Minneapolis and Maine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780985981877
Publisher: Holy Cow! Press
Publication date: 04/28/2015
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 955,588
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Imali Abala was born in Western Kenya and is currently living in Ohio. Her publications include Drum Bits of Terror (2014), A Fallen Citadel (poetry, 2012), The Dilemma of Jahenda, the Teenage Mother (2010), The Disinherited (2007). and Move on, Trufosa (2006). Some of her other works have appeared in A Thousand Voices Rising, and Reflections: An Anthology of African Women Poets (2013).

Cona F. (Faye) Gregory-Adams is an award-winning writer or poetry, children’s books, nonfiction, and short fiction. She has been published in poetry journals and anthologies in the US, UK, Korea and Canada. Faye served as Missouri’s senior poet laureate.

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist and essayist, author of the novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and the poetry collections, Homecoming: New and Selected Poems and The Woman I Kept to Myself. She has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Ingraham Foundation. She is the writer in residence at Middlebury College, VT.

Elvis Alves has written poetry that has appeared in The Caribbean Writer’s Journal, Colere, Magazine De L Mancha, First Reads, St Somewhere Journal, The Shine Journal and Small Axe Salon. He lives and works in New York City.

Onleilove Alston is a graduate of the Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work program at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work. As a member of the Poverty Initiative she co-developed the Mary Magdala Welfare Queen Project. Onleilove is a contributing writer for Sojourners Magazine and Blogging Specialist at Ecumenical Women at the United Nations. She lives in New York City.

Bobbi Arduini hold an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from St. Mary’s College where she received the Chester Aaron Scholarship for excellence in writing. Her work has appeared in Women Reinvented, Good Dogs Doing Good, and Sacred Fools. She also makes music and teaches high school English. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.

Cynthia Aretz, who died in 2012, lived in public housing in Minneapolis.

Peggy Aylsworth’s poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Alembic, The MacGuffin, Ars Interpres (Sweden), Chiron Review, Rattle, Poetry Saltzburg Review and numerous other journals in the U. S. and abroad. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. A retired psychotherapist, she lives in Santa Monica, CA.

Reed Banks is an artist and a retired administrator of services for the mentally challenged in Albemarle County, Virginia. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

Melissa Barber, a native of the Bronx, NY, is a single mother of an autistic daughter, and recently weathered and survived the NYC homeless shelter system. She trained and graduated as a medical physician from the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba and is currently studying for her US licensing exams.

Glenda Barrett, a native and resident of North Georgia, is an artist, poet and writer. Her work has been published widely in such places as Woman’s World, Farm and Ranch Living, Country Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Journal of Kentucky Studies. Her first chapbook was published by Finishing Line Press.

Allie Marini Batts came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum and she’s ALL out of bubblegum. She is an alumna of New College of Florida. Her work has appeared in over 40 literary magazines. She is a research writer by day and is pursuing her MFA degree through Antioch University of Los Angeles. She calls Tallahassee home.

Starr Cummin Bright lives and works as a writer, farm manager (Pennsylvania) and director of a youth sailing program (Maine). She finds her way in woods, fields and on rivers and the sea, bringing physical and mystical observations to paper.

Polly Brody is the author of four books: Other Nations, The Burning Bush, At the Flower's Lip, Stirring Shadows. At the Flower's Lip was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Polly's other métier is environmentalist/birder. As Chairwoman of the Newtown Conservation Commission she was instrumental in conserving a 790 acre peninsula as a CT State Forest.

Ashley Bryan is a renowned illustrator and author of numerous children’s books including Sing to the Sun, Beautiful Blackbird, The Dancing Granny, The ABCs of African-American Poetry and his autobiography, Words to My Life’s Song. He has twice won the Coretta Scott King Award and won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Lifetime Achievement award. He lives on an island in Maine.

Deborah Byrne is retired from the field of Special Education and Culinary Arts and Hospitality. After a divorce, she was unable to find affordable housing while completing her degree in the Boston area. Homeless for a year, she has published poetry, photography, and articles on how poverty affects survivors of abuse. She lives in Wyoming.

Patricia Frisella, past President of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, has a collection of poems published most recently in Liberation Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Tontongi & Jill Netchinsky (Trilingual Press, 2011). She won the 2012 International Merit Reward from Atlanta Review.

Lydia Caros is a pediatrician working with Native Americans in Minneapolis, MN. She is a member of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting.

Deborah Brody Chen, who writes under the name, miaokuancha, has lived long enough that it won't fit into a nutshell. New England, Taiwan, and Hawaii have all been called home. She writes, “If it catches my eye or my heart it will probably end up in ink or pixels. I mother. I nurse. I teach. I write. I feel. I see. I am.”

Sharon Chmielarz has had seven books of poetry published including Calling, a finalist for the Indie Book Awards, 2011, and The Other Mozart. Her most recent book is Love From the Yellowstone Trail. She’s had poems published in magazines like Notre Dame Review, The Iowa Review, Salmagundi, North American Review and Prairie Schooner. She was awarded the Water-Stone Review’s 2012 Jane Kenyon Prize.

Jayne Cortez, who died in 2012, was a performance poet and jazz musician whose work was marked by outrage and protest. She founded the Watts Repertory Company and lived in New York and Senegal at the time of her death. Winner of an American Book Award, she received many fellowships including one from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mary Cowette is an artist and a writer. She is a single mom and lives in St. Paul, MN with her kids and cats.

Brian Daldorph teaches at the University of Kansas and Douglas County Jail. He edits Coal City Review. His most recent books of poetry are From the Inside Out: Sonnets (Woodley Publishers, 2008) and Jail Time (Original Plus Publishers, 2009).

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila earned a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM. Her lineage can be traced to the outlaws of the American West, the Spanish land-grant people, and the Ashihi clan of the Dine. She is the recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship and is the creator and editor of the on-line publication La Loca Magazine.

Ann Marie Davis is a life-long resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2009, after sustaining a job-related injury, she decided to spend her life pursuing a creative path. Today, she is a writer, painter and poet and is working on her first novel tentatively titled You Were Always Waiting for This Moment, as well as her first collection of poetry.

Margo Davis’s poetry has appeared in Texas Poetry Calendar, New Orleans Review, Maple Leaf Rag, Passages North, The Louisville Review, Negative Capability and Louisiana Literature. More recent poems appear in Surrounded: Living with Islands, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and Calliope. She manages Library Services at a leading law firm in Houston.

Mary Krane Derr is a poet, writer, musician and fourth generation South Side Chicagoan. Her poetry has been nominated for a Best of the Web award, Best American Poetry, and Best Spiritual Writing. She has contributed to literary magazines in the U. S., Ireland, Great Britain, and India as well as anthologies like Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society (Pudding House).

Heid Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, serves as a visiting writer at colleges and universities around the country. She is the author of the poetry collections Fishing for Myth, National Monuments (2008), and Cell Traffic (2012). She also authored The Mother’s Tongue and co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women on Community.

Mike Essig was a poet, writer, teacher, tutor, and gardener who lived in Mechanicsburg, PA. He died in 2013.

Amendu Evans has served as a member of the Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project’s Executive Committee and Labor Committee, as a site organizer for the MMP and Logan CDC Carlton Simmons Technology Keyspot Computer Center, and the coordinator of MMP's Labor Justice Radio. A hip-hop artist, stand-up comic, lifetime resident of Philadelphia, he is also a shop steward representing maintenance workers.

Patricia Fargnoli is an award winning poet and retired psychotherapist. Author of six poetry collections, including Lives of Others, Duties of the Spirit, and Winter, she was New Hampshire’s poet laureate from 2006-2009. She is the recipient of a Macdowell Colony fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Indiana Review, Nimrod, and others.

Ann Filemyr is a poet and writer who serves as the Academic Dean at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her recent books of poetry include: On the Nature of Tides (LaNana Creek Press 2012); The Healer's Diary (Sunstone Press 2012); Growing Paradise (LaNana Creek Press 2011), and Love Enough (Red Mountain Press, 2013). She believes in the power of creativity to transform our lives.

Deborah Finklestein has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Her poetry has been published in anthologies, literary magazines, and newspapers in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Serbia and the U. S., as well as in online publications. She teaches creative writing in Boston, MA.

Patricia Frisella, past President of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, has a collection of poems published most recently in Liberation Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Tontongi and Jill
Netchinsky (Trilingual Press, 2011) She won the 2012 International Merit Reward from Atlanta Review.

Brendan Galvin is the author of 12 collections of poetry including, Atlantic Flyway, Hotel Malabar (Iowa Poetry Prize), Habitat (National Book Award Nominee), and Ocean Effects. Other awards and prizes include two NEA fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Sotheby Prize, and Poetry’s Levinson Prize. Retired from 40 years of college teaching, he lives in Truro, MA.

Michael Glaser served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 2004-2009 and is Professor Emeritus of St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s City, MD. Over 500 of his poems have been published in magazines and journals. His most recent collections of poetry include: Being a Father (2004), Fire Before the Hands (Anabiosis Press, 2007), Remembering Eden (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Disrupting Consensus (The Teacher’s Voice, 2009).

Meri Harary is an MFA candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. She received the Leo Conellan Award from the Connecticut State Arts Board and is working on her third chapbook.

Markita Hawkins is a resident of Nicollet Square, a Beacon Foundation housing project for formerly homeless youth in Minneapolis, MN.

Roberta Hill is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. A poet, fiction writer and scholar, she has been published in anthologies such as Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas (Sun Tracks, 2011), and Bringing Gifts, Bringing News (DownStairs Press, 2011). Her poetry collections have been Star Quilt (1984), Philadelphia Flowers (1996) and Cicadas (2013). She is a professor in the English department and the American Indian Studies Program of UW, Madison.

Tanya Hough is a member of Poor Voices United. Poor Voices United, located in the Atlantic City area, is working to end poverty by uniting poor people through stories, service, advocacy and action. They help fight for the human rights to housing, health care, a living wage, education, and food.

Scott Hutchison’s work has appeared in numerous publications, with new work forthcoming in The Medulla Review, The Coe Review, and The Tulane Review. He is poet laureate of Gilford, NH.
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Zehra Imam is currently a high school teacher in the South Bronx. Zehra is an alumna of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and is the founder/director for the Illuminated Cities Project, an interfaith, multi-racial experiential learning fellowship for student leaders in segregated

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

"The Office" Colleen Wessel-McCoy xv

"The Maidservant" Imali Abah 1

"Southern Summers" Faye Adams 3

"Unbonded" Oneleilove Alston 5

"Spic" Julia Alvarez 6

"Poor House" Elvis Alves 8

"Rich" Bobbi Arduni 9

"Flying in Suburbia" Cynthia Aretz 11

"How It Was, 1935" Peggy Aylesworth 12

"Dad" J. Reed Banks 14

"The New Dawn Hotel (Life in the Shelter System)" Melissa Barber 15

"Hard Times" Glenda Barrett 17

"That Kind of Poor" Allie Marini Batts 18

"Delammated" Starr Cummin Bright 20

"Ursus Horribilis" Polly Brody 21

"Song" Ashley Bryan 22

"Becoming" Deborah Byrne 23

"The Wishing Well" Lydia Caros 24

"Facing the Mountain" Deborah Brody Chen 26

"Washing My Face" Sharon Chmielarz 29

"Global Inequalities" Jayne Cortez 30

"Under the Big Top" Mary Cowette 32

"No New Music" Stanley Crouch 33

"Factory Lives" Brian Daldorph 35

"Bench Seats" Unglebah Daniel-Davis 36

"We Digress" Ann Marie Davis 38

"Picnic" Margo Davis 43

"Broke" Mary Krane Derr 45

"She Was the Kind" Heid Erdrich 46

"My Cockroach Lover" Martin Espada 48

"Poverty at Sixty" Mike Essig 49

"Untitled" Amendu Evans 51

"Dante's Inferno, 1961" Patricia Fargnoli 52

"Unknown Cosmology" Ann Filemyr 54

"Mining Coal" Deborah Finklestein 56

"Flint, Michigan, 1955" Patricia Frisella 57

"A Photo of Miners (U.S.A. 1908)" Brendan Galvin 59

"Faces" Michael Glaser 61

"Outside a Bar in Sioux Lookout" David Groulx 62

"Time Machine, 1942" Meri Harary 63

"I'm From" Markita Hawkins 65

"Dream of Rebirth" Roberta Hill 66

"Grieving Grandfather" Tanya Hough 67

"Food Drive" Scott Hutchison 70

"Karachi's Centripetal Force" Zehra Imam 71

"From Dovetailed Corners" Jim Johnson 72

"On Reading The Rocking Horse Winner" Lisa Kang 73

"Uncle Dolan Spoke on Timbering in East Tennessee" Kathryn Kerr 75

"After Achieving the American Dream" Susan Deborah King 76

"My Choice, Not to Ignore the Poor's Voice" Jonathan Langley 78

"Wetback" Luis Larin 82

"Dragon Flame Tattoo" James Lenfestey 83

"A Dozen Reasons to Give Up Haggling for the Price of Weavings" Roseann Lloyd 84

"Looking at a Photograph of My Mother, Age 3" George Ella Lyon 85

"1/" Chosen Lyric 87

"Pastor Visits Parishioner" Marsha Matthews 88

"A Little Bit of Timely Advice" Mekeel McBride 90

"Deluge" Ann McCrady 91

"Tuesday at the Outreach Office" Ethna McKiernan 92

"After My Stepfather's Death" Wesley McNair 94

"Mother and Child" Stephen Mead 95

"Polenta" Marsha Mentzer 97

"Dedicated to the Countless South Africans Who Gave Their Lives for Freedom and Democracy" Afzal Moola 98

"Depression Generation" Sharon Lack Munson 99

"They're Coming to Take Us Away" Sharon Nelms 101

"Washboard Wizard, Highland, Kansas, 1888" Marilyn Nelson 102

"Head Start Kids" Kara Newhouse 103

"Why Shouldn't She" Grace Nichols 104

"Real Estate" Naomi Shihab Nye 105

"Entitlements" Molly O'Dell 106

"The Beloved Is Dead" Gregory Orr 107

"Posture" Maureen Owen 108

"Don't Close Larry's" Carl Palmer 109

"The Hyperbolist Speaks" Pit Menousek Pinegar 111

"To Hope" Martha Postlethwaite 115

"The Unchosen" David Radavich 116

"Blood: Whose and How Much" Carlos Reyes 118

"My Vision Has Rhythm" Lola Rodriguez 119

"Justification of the Horned Lizard" Pattiann Rogers 121

"Free Wheeling through Meffa" Abigail Rome 123

"Adventure" Helen Klein Ross 124

"My Name" Rose Schwab 125

"Brother Sighting" Karen Seay 126

"The Snow Cave Woman" Anne E. Seltz 127

"'Escape' Artist" Gene Severson 128

"Pink Slip" Betsy Sholl 129

"Slum Boy on Glue" Michael Shorb 131

"First of the Month Kool-Aid" Marty Silverthorne 133

"Bountiful" Claudia Solotaroff 135

"Bar" Aaron Stauffer 137

"What a Wake-Up Call" Madreen Stevens 138

"Ballad" Tony Stoneburner 140

"Trouble, Fly" Susan Marie Swanson 143

"Ten Gallons of Tough" Tiffany Tate 144

"The War is Over" John Thiemeyer 145

"Scribe" Kim Tran 147

"Self-Employment, 1970" Natasha Trethewey 148

"Street Wise" Conne Walle 149

"Gone" Beverly Welsh 150

"Lakeview Lounge" John Wessel-McCoy 151

"Little Tree" Daniel Williams 153

"Witness" Tony Voss Williams 155

"Desert Cenote" Keith Wilson 158

"Namesake" Laura Madeline Wiseman 159

"Spokane Reservation School Teacher: Wellpinit, Washington" Carolyne Wright 160

"Jairus's Daughter" Pam Wynn 161

"Hindu Prayer" Anu Yadov 161

"Painting Angels" Jane Yolen 166

"The Escape Artist" Kevin Young 167

"What Helps" a group poem by the Wendell E. Patrick Fun(k)ology Hour 169

Notes on Contributors 171

Permissions and Sources 191

About the Editor 193

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