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.
Ed/Pub:LMPowered by Sidelines