The tornadoes that ravaged Alabama on April 27, 2011 and January 23, 2012 affected everyone in the region—whether their lives or property sustained a direct hit or not. The “Voices from the Storm” project encouraged area residents to turn to writing in hopes that it would help both writers and readers heal from the wounds inflicted by the storms. Over 80 people of diverse ages and backgrounds sent in poems, essays, and short stories for the compilation. And now, just as the City of Birmingham prepares for the second anniversary of its April storm, a collection of works titled Voices from the Storm: Our Spirit Will Not Be Broken Anthology is ready for release.
Sponsored by the Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC), in partnership with the non-profit creative writing organization Real Life Poets (RLP), Inc., the publication will be unveiled during a program and reception on Tuesday, April 30 at the Birmingham Public Library’s downtown location. Several writers will read selections from their work during the event which begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium. The program is free and open to the public.
The “Voices from the Storm” project was open to all ages. Submissions of writings were made from October 2011 to March 31, 2012 at any public library location in Jefferson County or submitted electronically. All submissions were posted on the JCLC website at www.jclc.org. John Paul Taylor, Executive Director of RLP and Patrick Johnson, RLP board chair, selected the works that were included in the printed anthology. Toby Richards of the Birmingham Museum of Art worked with area schools and at Camp South Hampton Art Camp to encourage students to create artwork inspired by their storm experiences. Artwork by several students is included in the anthology.
An added component to Tuesday’s program will be artwork created during the Camp Alabama Storm Art Line Project. Volunteer experts conducted therapeutic art workshops in April 2012 with elementary school-age students in communities hard hit by the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. Students from Concord, Hackleburg, Tuscaloosa and the greater Birmingham area contributed artwork that expressed gratitude for receiving help in the storm’s aftermath.