Since Hurricane Katrina hit, a flood of clothes and money has been donated from all over the country to help the many Americans struggling to piece their lives back together. But who would have thought that a collection of words could also bring relief to the thousands of victims left homeless.
“Poetry is a way to write how you feel and get your emotions on paper,” said Erick Mueck, spokesman for The International Library of Poetry.
For Hurricane Katrina victims, however, poetry is now so much more.
The International Library of Poetry, also known as Poetry.com, has been donating $1 to the American Red Cross for every poem submitted to the organization during the month of September.
“Two days after (the hurricane hit), one of the editors here mentioned that we should do something with the Red Cross even before other people started talking about donating money,” Mueck said. He added that this is the first time the organization has teamed up with the Red Cross. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Mueck said Poetry.com has received nearly 7,000 poems from all over the United States and expects thousands more.
“When people learn about our donation, they will suddenly realize that their own poetic works can make a difference,” said Poetry.com’s managing editor Howard Ely in a press release. “In fact, we are already receiving thousands of poems expressing personal feelings about this tragic disaster.”
Poetry submissions do not have to pertain to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Mueck emphasized, “We’ll take any poem.”
After submitting the poem, the author’s work will be published on Poetry.com and will automatically be entered in the International Open Amateur Poetry Contest.
In the past, Poetry.com has worked with several different charities, Mueck said.
“We have a Poetry for Peace program that we’ve been doing for years,” he said, explaining that the program donates 10 cents to Unicef for each submitted poem. “We’ve always been a charitable company.”
Poetry for Peace has even received submissions by President Bill Clinton and the Dali Lama, which it displays at conventions, Mueck said.
After the 9-11 attacks, Poetry.com organized a similar program and has since continued to collect and post poetry relating to 9-11 on their Web site. Poetry.com may consider doing the same for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Until then, the organization simply wants to give poets of all levels a different way to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.