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Annie Holden

Cleveland, Ohio

The Finding Voice Poetry Workshop began at the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio in May of 2009. It was supposed to be a “one-off” event but when one of the participants asked if it would continue the following week, Annie along with two other local assistants to John Fox, without hesitation agreed it must be done. Initially funded with a grant from IPM, it eventually took on a life of its own.

Its formula is simple but the results are immeasurable. Each week they present a selection of “starter” poems by anyone from Etheridge Knight to Wanda Coleman to Robert Frost. The group reads, discusses, and each writes on their own. Then the process repeats—each reading their work, admiring, celebrating. This all takes place at a conference table in the “library” at the shelter with bowls of candy, nuts, fruit, and plates of cookies circulating all the while.

Each week for 11 years this was the routine and respite. The group has learned to deeply listen to each other through joy, pain, often laughter and even aggravation. Poetry takes us to the center of things and each other.

Annie Holden
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