Compassionate Poetry Projects courtesy of The Grass Roots Poetry Group, White Rat Press, and Silva Merjanian


Not only do some poets use their work to raise the general consciousness but they often donate their work to help fund worthy efforts. Here are three collections that have been featured here before in greater depth. I believe you’ll appreciate  should you decide to read them.

A bit of research reveals there are many other such published collections or anthologies in process. As just two examples, I found one for asthma awareness and another to help support a local ambulance service.

If there’s a cause you’d like to support through poetry, rummage around the Internet or consider producing a collection or anthology yourself.  Not easy work, I know, but you might enjoy it and it would surely be rewarding.


John Anstie whose poem was featured yesterday is a member of The Grass Roots Poetry Group, a collaboration that created and published Petrichor Rising. The proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to UNICEF. The backstory is Petrichor Rising  and how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection. You’ll find links in that feature to purchase the book. John is also one of the earliest members of The BeZine team.


One day some time ago a few books arrived in my mailbox from Anne Stewart of  poetry p f and  Second Light Network of Women Poets Founder, Dilys Wood. Among the books was an anthology that deserved special attention: Hands & Wings, Poems for Freedom from Torture (White Rat Press, 2015).  For information to purchase contact: dorothy.yamamoto@whiteratpress.co.uk. Dorothy Yamamoto is a poet and the editor of this collection. The poems in it are freely shared by A-list poets. The proceeds from the sale of the collection go to help with the rehabilitation and support of torture victims seeking protection in the U.K.


When last I chatted with Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, she’d raised $682.70 for Mer Doon Inc. from the proceeds of Rumor (Cold Water Press, 2015). Mer Doon is an organization that houses orphaned eighteen-year-old girls aging out of care. This support gives the girls a chance to become financially independent and safe from human traffickers. So far the sales of Rumor have  generated over $5,000 for charities. Quite remarkable. If you buy the book directly from Silva’s site (as opposed to Amazon), all proceeds go to these charities. Rumor won the 2015 Best Book Award in the poetry category from the NABE. Three poems from the book were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  It is Silva’s second published collection.


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Historian of the American Revolution, Thomas Fleming, died

American Historian and Historical Novelist, Thomas Fleming (July 5, 1927 – July 23, 2017)


“Novelists focus on the intimate side of life. This is the first time anyone has looked at the intimate side of the lives of these famous Americans, with an historian’s eyes.” Fleming said with regard to Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers, which examines the roles of women in the lives of these early leaders

Thomas Fleming was an historian and former president of PEN America and the Society of American Historians. When his tenure as president of PEN ended, he remained active in its Freedom to Write program. Fleming chaired the New York American Revolution Round Table and was an honorary member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. Fleming died last month on the 23rd.  He is survived by his wife, writer Alice Hoffman (literature and fiction, young adult, magical realism).

Thomas Fleming’s work reflects the foci of his interests –  the American Revolution and military history – with books including Liberty! The American Revolution And The Future Of America, Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the History of America and Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge.

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Poet and Writer Denis Johnson (d. May 24) to receive posthumous award for fiction

“English words are like prisms. Empty, nothing inside, and still they make rainbows.” Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son


Upon being offered the prize in March, Johnson said, “The list of past awardees is daunting, and I’m honored to be in such company. My head’s spinning from such great news!” After a protracted struggle with liver cancer, Denis Johnson died on May 24 of this year. He was sixty-seven.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced last week that Denis Johnson (July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017), author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Jesus’ Son, and the novel Tree of Smoke, will posthumously receive the U.S. Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 2.

The National Book Festival and the prize ceremony will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The author’s widow, Cindy Johnson, will accept the prize.

Hayden chose Johnson based on the recommendation of a jury of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics from around the world.

“Denis Johnson was a writer for our times,” Hayden said. “In prose that fused grace with grit, he spun tale after tale about our walking wounded, the demons that haunt, the salvation we seek. We emerge from his imagined world with profound empathy, a different perspective—a little changed.”

Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany, the son of an American diplomat, and spent his childhood in the Philippines and Japan before returning to spend the rest of his youth in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He is the author of nine novels, as well as many plays, poetry collections, a short-story collection and a novella. Johnson won the National Book Award for his resonant Vietnam novel Tree of Smoke (2007), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

His short novel Train Dreams (2012) was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent work, The Laughing Monsters, was published in 2014. Johnson’s many other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations and a Whiting Award.

Johnson’s characters were down on their luck (at least in the work that I’ve read) and created out of his own life and experience of being benched early on by alcohol and drugs, psychiatric care in his early twenties and after his first marriage. It apparently took him some time to realize that his addictions did nothing for his creativity. Once he became sober his output was prodigious. The eleven stories in Jesus’ Son, considered by many to be Johnson’s preeminent work, are linked by the same drug-addicted narrator. The fictions depict criminal activities in various parts of the U.S.

“The traveling salesmen fed me pills that made the lining of my veins feel scraped out, my jaw ached… I knew every raindrop by its name, I sensed everything before it happened. Like I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside, I knew we’d have an accident in the rain. I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way.”
― Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son

Part of this write-up is courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

U.S. Library of Congress, 17th National Book Festival to Be Livestreamed on Facebook


Early heads-up: Mark your calendars for the 17th Library of Congress National Book Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2, at the Washington Convention Center.

Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden

Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, announced that the main-stage author presentations will be live-streamed on Facebook. Details on the scheduled authors are presented in the video below, which includes the Washington Post’s book editor, Ron Charles, discussing books, authors, and expectations.

Among those noted is David McCullough (The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge), historian, writer and lecturer. Other presenters include J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Ellegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis) and Diana Gabaldon (the eight book Outlander Series).   

Where: facebook.com/libraryofcongress/  (This is a public site. You don’t have to be on Facebook to watch.

if you are reading from an email subcription, you’ll likely have to link through to this site to view the video.


Livestream: Collections as Data, July 25:: the relevance, accessibility and other benefits of making digital collections available as data and ready for computational analysis. The Library of Congress is hosting a day-long livestreamed event that will feature case-studies and impact stories of applying digital methods to analyzing and sharing collections.

Where: facebook.com/libraryofcongress/  (This is a public site. You don’t have to be on Facebook to watch.


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The U.S. Library of Congress Launches New Software to Simplify the Downloading of Braille and Audio Reading Material

NEW LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS: U.S. Senate Confirms first woman and first African-American as Librarian of Congress


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