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Poetry Takes To The Blogosphere In Support Of Hurricane Katrina Victims

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Not very often does an event of national impact generate a cauldron of shock, sadness, outrage, support, heroism and incompetence to the degree that a certain hurricane named Katrina has. But Americans and others throughout the world are taking charge of their responses to this catastrophe.

One way they are doing so is through the power of poetry in the blogosphere. An innovative new blog surfaced during the days New Orleans was drowing and the rest of the Gulf Coast was reeling in Karina’s wake. Called Hellicane, its goal is to provide a powerful, poetic outlet for poems written by, for and about the myriad victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Launched by a San Diego-based web poet and podcaster, Hellicane began modestly enough, featuring three eclectic poems addressing the disaster in different ways. Within a few days, nearly a thousand visitors from around the world had visited the site, and the featured poems contributed by poets (including Hurricane Katrina victims themselves) swelled to twenty, with more submitted and posted every day.

Hellicane poems range from the highly political (“Translating Bush’s Speech As He Cuts His Long Vacation Short”) to the highly emotional (“Timeless Memories Of Our Past”) and from the religious (“In The Midst Of The Storm, He Is There”) to riveting first-hand accounts set to verse (“In This Land Of Plenty”).

Contributing poets are just as diverse, ranging from a nursing home resident in Oregon to a newspaper reporter from Philadelphia, from a family member of New Orleans law enforcement officials to anonymous survivors of the storm.

Many of the poems are accompanied by striking images perfectly matched to the message of their respective works. Other features include a site feed that lets viewers receive automatic notification each time a new poem is added, and a live chat service to discuss any of the poems featured on Hellicane with other readers and, sometimes, with the poets themselves.

Hellicane – and much of the poetry it presents – has elicited strong feedback from many of its visitors, mostly positive (“…to be commended for realizing that the force of poetry could be an influencing factor in bringing aid and attention to this greatest of American tragedies”) and occassionally negative (“Get a life and quit trying to make one out of this tragedy!!”).

However it’s viewed, there is no denying that Hellicane is making an impact as a unique cyber-resource of poetic comfort, support and outrage for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and those concerned about them. As blame is assigned and reassigned, the dead recovered and buried, monetary donations allocated, victims rescued and resettled, communities rebuilt and cities drained, Hellicane will continue to solicit, collect and present poems by, for and about the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

It’s power is in the poetry, and it’s a power that will reach as far as the written word can resonate.

You can read the poems, or contribute one yourself here.


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About PodPoet

  • The desire to make art is a very natural response to a catastrophe of such proportions – thanks for bringing this to our attention, PodPoet!


    Thursday SEPTEMBER 8, 2005

    Houston, Texas – Sept. 8, 2005 – As part of a world-wide effort to further help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana rap artist X-CONN and his record label Realstreetmusic.com has begun manufacturing custom t-shirts to help raise much-needed money. These unique and creative t-shirts feature designs that illustrate the struggle and strife experienced by the hurricane survivors combined with lyrics from the Louisiana native’s very own songs. X-CONN feels very strongly that he must help the survivors by any means possible.

    “Why are we doing this,” Realstreetmusic.com Chief Executive Officer Kirk Phillips asks, “Everybody at my label watched the horror and destruction unfold on television with the rest of the world; however for us… it’s personal.” “The number one artist on our label is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and we are based in Houston, Texas. These are the two cities that are hosting the majority of the survivors… we just got tired of watching and feeling helpless, we decided do something positive to provide help instead.”

    The “t-shirts with a soundtrack” campaign has two main purposes: to raise money to be given to the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations on the front line helping the Hurricane Katrina survivors reconstruct their lives and to inspire others… especially in the rap music community… to get involved, to get moving and to do something to help others in need.

    Why call them “t-shirts with a soundtrack“? The reason is that each shirt purchased comes with a limited edition compact disc that features two of X-CONN’S radio singles, Still Holdin’ it Down and A Victim of Poverty, lyrics from both songs appear on the t-shirt designs themselves. In a cruel form of irony the singles have been made truly relevant by the destruction and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

    “”Man… every time that I hear those songs since last week they take on a totally new meaning for me,” remarked X-CONN, “when I hear them now, I think of the strength and perseverance of the survivors and when I drive near the Astrodome or the other shelters in Houston, I can’t help but to think of the present uncertainty and future rebirth of the people from my home state… I plan to be a big part of the rebirth process” says the Louisiana rapper.

    The first in a series of custom “t-shirts with a soundtrack” are now available to the public on the Realstreetmusic.com website and will remain so until all the life-rebuilding needs of the hurricane survivors are satisfied. “We are actively trying to expand our program and have these t-shirts available on other websites with the main goal of increasing the benefit to the hurricane survivors,” Kirk Phillips declared “I made a call to the television legend Byron Allen, the C.E.O. of Entertainmentstudios.com, last Friday and talked with his assistant.” “Byron is a great guy with a great staff, if God be willing he will help us exponentially multiply our efforts on for the Hurricane Katrina survivors on a global scale” said Phillips.

    “So much is reported about the selfish nature and irresponsibility of the Hip-Hop community,” says X-CONN “but that is not true of all rappers and rap-fans and I am doing everything in my power to prove the opposite.” “So much is written and reported about the jewels, cars and homes that rappers have” X-CONN goes on to say, “I don’t own a Bentley or a mansion, but I do have my music and my creativity… I plan to use them both to help somebody else for a change.”

    X-CONN is a former rapper on New Olean’s native Master P’s No-Limit Records and has been with his new music family Realstreetmusic.com since 2002. For more information on X-CONN and his new t-shirt campaign see his page at Realstreetmusic.com. Photographs of X-CONN are available on his website and by request from his office staff.

  • Katie

    Being a Katrina victim sucks!