The Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) “Voices from the Storms” takes a page from the Operation Homecoming writing program for military veterans as an initiative to aid survivors of the tornadoes in central Alabama in 2011 and 2012. “Voices from the Storms” encourages area residents to turn to expressive writing to share their thoughts and emotions as part of the post-tornado healing process. Originally slated to end in January, the deadline for submitting an original poem, short story, or essay has been extended to March 31. You may e-mail your submissions to Haruyo Miyagawa, Arts/Literature/Sports Department, Central Library at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can turn in hard copies at any Jefferson County public library. All submissions will be posted to the Jefferson County Library Cooperative website: www.jclc.org. John Paul Taylor, executive director of Real Life Poets, will select the works that will be compiled and included in a paper anthology that will be available to library patrons free of charge.The program is open to all ages.
There are indications that expressive writing and poetry therapy can play an important role in improving health and well-being. In 2012, writing workshops will be part of the medical protocol to help service members heal at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, expanding the landmark 2004 Operation Homecoming partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Department of Defense.
The BPL and other members of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) have partnered with Real Life Poets, Inc. on the “Voices from the Storms” project. Real Life Poets, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit community service and mentoring organization for young adults encouraging good communication and oratorical skills using spoken word poetry and the arts.