Revealing Hunger Through Spoken Word Poetry

Art often has the power to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and encourage discussion about difficult topics. That’s why, in 2015, ProMedica hosted a statewide contest called Revealing Hunger: Spoken Word Poetry. The contest gathered submissions from poets across Ohio, sharing their work on an experience around hunger.

Out of the submissions, two were chosen as winners in the contest: “Snapshots” by Sandra Rivers-Gill and “Hungry, Please Help” by Trina Stolec. In addition to a monetary prize, these poets were invited to a statewide summit in Columbus, Ohio, to perform their poetry among government, healthcare, social service and faith-based leaders gathered to address hunger as a health issue in Ohio.

Watch the powerful performances by winners Sandra Rivers-Gill and Trina Stolec and learn more about what inspired their pieces below.

“Snapshots” by Sandra Rivers-Gill

For Sandra Rivers-Gill, the words first came from an image on a street corner. Then, she imagined what food a person in poverty could possibly order at a restaurant when holding a “menu of lack”. Finally, she realized that while she’s not hungry, she could be.

“There’s a fine line between being hungry and not,” said Sandra. Her poem, “Snapshots”, takes the listener on a journey from seeing someone in need to seeing themselves in that same situation. “The whole poem is a circle,” she explained.

Sandra volunteers at a food pantry and once, herself, received a basket of food in a time of need.

“Hunger means a variety of things to different people, it’s not just the food,” said Sandra, who hopes her work will inspire, motivate and bless those who hear it.

“Signs” by Trina Stolec

Like Sandra, Trina Stolec’s poem began with a street corner.

“It’s actually a true story. It happened,” explained Trina, who encountered an injured woman in need. When she saw the woman limp to her car and be so moved by her giving, Trina was touched.

“I wanted to share it with other people in a way that is very meaningful and moves them, makes them understand the issue,” she said.

Trina performs her spoken word poetry in Northwest Ohio and has shared “Signs” at open mic sessions. “It’s a powerful piece that impresses people and moves them,” said Trina. “It does what it’s intended to do and that’s to make people stop and think.”

Revealing Hunger: Spoken Word Poetry is part of ProMedica’s Come to the Table initiative, which works to raise awareness of hunger’s impact on overall health and also to eliminate hunger in the communities ProMedica serves and beyond. In 2013, the first Revealing Hunger project debuted after nine individuals captured their experiences struggling with hunger in a photography exhibit at Toledo Museum of Art.