Poetry and art can—and should—change the world. Rising Voices: Poetry Toward a Social Justice Revolution forcefully demonstrates this truth. With 77 poems from 45 poets, Rising Voices addresses critical social justice issues of our time, including racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, homelessness, and more. Each topic is approached with sensitivity and insight, strength and compassion. Readers will be provoked to reflection, tears, and action. Rising Voices seeks to comfort, support, and empower those engaged in social justice work while inspiring others to join the movements. This volume includes poems by TS Hawkins, Frederick K. Foote, Jr., Red Haircrow, Aliya J’anai, J. Thomas Brown, Venita Thomas, Carol Barrett, Nathaniel Granger, Jr., Veronica Lac, Louis Hoffman, and more. In addition to the poems, Rising Voices includes a powerful introduction that frames the poetry of the volume through covering topics such as Critical Race Theory, counter-stories, the role of empathy, transforming suffering through meaning, the hard and soft edges of social justice, and more. At the conclusion, several activities are included to help readers reflect upon how they can use their own poetry and the poetry of others to participate in the social justice revolution.

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At this pivotal moment in humankind’s evolution, the voices rising from this anthology are more essential than ever before, in bringing understanding, healing, and transformation to our world. The powerful insights, wisdom, and revelations in this volume are only derived from personal, lived experience and only conveyed through the power of poetry. Social justice is not only the theme of these empowering verses; it is also served, and the Beloved Community advanced, through these Rising Voices.

Dan Hocoy, PhD
President, Goddard College
Co-Editor, Shadows & Light: Theory, Research, and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology (Vols. 1 & 2)

The poems in Rising Voices, like powerful anthems, call for a relationally ethical connection between heart and mind by evoking emotions, prompting meaningful questions, critical reflections, and generating insights into uniquely lived local experiences otherwise foreclosed by intellectualism, lost in generalized narratives, and ignored by disaffection.

Héctor Luis Vargas, PhD
Full Professor, Regis University

It is with distinct pleasure that I endorse Rising Voices, a compelling portrayal of life identifying everyday issues that are real and present. I found that each poem is distinctive and personal to the poet, yet the longings and sufferings are shared by us all. The authors do our country a great service toward understanding the multiculturalism and diversity that exists in the United States. My hats off and a salute to all the great poets who contributed to this book.

Michael Colombe
Candidate for U.S House of Representatives, Colorado 5th Congressional District

This is not just a book of poems, but also expressions of black history through poetic self-reflections. When you read this book, you will be able to free your mind and enlightenment will follow.

Dr. Regina A. Lewis
CEO of ReginaSpeaking, LLC

As always with the Poetry, Healing, and Growth Series books, I find myself enthralled, breathless, and sobbing as I read the poems in Rising Voices. The pain, the triumph, and the joy seep through the pages and into my soul. Reading these poems is an opportunity to bear witness to the experience of what it is like to live in the skin of someone who has felt the pain of being unseen, rejected, unwanted, kicked out, shamed, and despondent. I believe that “love means never looking away” and that has been an ethic I strive to live by. Reading these pages is an opportunity to refuse to look away–to bear witness to the experience and wisdom and then to take our place in the revolution. “We have nothing to lose but our chains” ~Assata Shakur

Lisa Xochitl Vallejos, PhD
Rocky Mountain Humanistic Counseling and Psychological Association

Rising Voices covers topics relating to social justice, activism, discrimination, and empathy, focusing on the need to speak out and inspire us all to stay woke. This book will impress poetry lovers because the voices are here and now, and real. We all feel the healing power when we are free to share our stories without fear of judgment. Stories are how we humans understand ourselves and each other. One of my greatest teachers (Dr. David Simon) told me that behind every illness there is a love story waiting to be told. If we allow someone to share their story with us, they will eventually reveal where they are stuck in life. Our life is our story, and each one of us has a unique story to tell. I’m grateful for these great activists, authors, and poets who share their soul’s talent–making the world better, one poem at a time.

Denise Widner, (C-IAYT), Mental Health Counselor candidate

Table of Contents


Journey of Brilliance by Aliya J’anai
The Color of Your Skin by Red Haircrow
I Refuse by Nathaniel Granger, Jr.
For Abundance by Veronica Lac
An Innocent Question: “One Check or Two?” by Louis Hoffman
Letter to My Ex by Jennifer O’Neill
Do You Have Any Kids? by Matt Dahl
Evolve by Joy Hoffman
The Robbery of Rosalind Franklin by Carol Barrett
Complicated by J. Thomas Brown
Becoming Formless: Opening Doors We Didn’t Know Existed by Vanessa Sinclair
Morose Music by Keith Wallace
Chicago Sonnet #4 by D. A. Hosek
“What if Justice Was Fair?” by Laura Wright
These Eyes That Can No Longer Weep by Esther Muthoni Wafula
Genocide by Louis Hoffman
This Poem Was Brought to You by the Letter “P” by Jennifer K. Yancey
Brightest Smile by Nathaniel Granger, Jr.
Esther Counsels the Wife of a Confederate General by Carol Barrett
Robber Barron by J. Thomas Brown
No Trespassing by Jyl Anais
El Chucho by Jim Keller
American Dream On by Sean Murphy
The Ballad of Sandra Bland by Katherine Edgren
Don’t Swallow by J. Thomas Brown
Chicago Sonnet #27 by D. A. Hosek
A Long-Standing War by Kelsey Smith
Inhale. Hold. by Nance Reynolds
Dying in the Sun by Gina Belton
Home Grown by Bernardine (Dine) Watson
Move Along Now by Melinda Rose
Let’s Make a New Sign of the Times by Nancy Devine
The United States of America by Joseph Ellison Brockway
Don’t Want to Write No Poem by Portia Rawles
I Charge Thee by Jennifer K. Yancey
With One Look by Veronica Lac
‘Twas Some Weeks Before Christmas (2016) by Nathaniel Granger, Jr.
Honeymoon in Harrisburg by J. Thomas Brown
Chicago Sonnet #29 by D. A. Hosek
Chocolate Bliss by Duane L. Herrmann
The Auctioneer by Y’Anad Burrell
The Auctioneer’s Unconscious by Louis Hoffman
Skating With Our Daughter on Veteran’s Day by Carol Barrett
A Resurrected Woman by Venita R. Thomas
Church Bells of Moxico by Esther Muthoni Wafula
Mass Puddles by Joseph Ellison Brockway
Wind’s Lyrics of Equality by Kristen Beau Howard
Snakes in the Trees by J. Thomas Brown
Leaving the Planet by Rachel Porias
Poisoning the Water by Kelsey Smith
You Can’t Commodify the Sacred: For the Next Seven Generations of the Colonizer by Gina Belton
Pledge of Allegiance, February 2017 by Marna Broekhoff
Human Love by Tracy Lee Sisk
The Big Burn by Jennifer Lagier
A Bright White Light by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Arvena by Katherine Edgren
Because I Could Not Stop for Hate by Susan White
When We Let Live by Larry Graber
Choked-Off Scream by Katherine Rosemond
Battle Cry by Sarah Dickenson Snyder
Servant Leadership by Laura Wright
from (an elegy, too) by TS Hawkins
Pavement by John C. Mannone
No Right of Passage by Shelley Lynn Pizzuto
Asking for Names by Nance Reynolds
Untitled Black Man by Kelsey Smith
Threatened by Beads by Red Haircrow
A Matter of Conscience by Jennifer Lagier
Michael Brown, Jr.: A Postscript by Bernardine (Dine) Watson
Angry. Black. Woman. by Jennifer O’Neill
I Pray You Pardon Me by Jennifer K. Yancey
Reflection by Nancy Devine
Revised Second Amendment by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Vashti Reviews Linda Lovelace by Carol Barrett
All Are Welcome by Melinda Rose
Call for the Question by Nathaniel Granger, Jr.
We Shall Not Go Back! by Hubert C. Jackson, Jr.

About the Editors
About the Cover Artist