FAO in North America

Poets Call for Zero Hunger in First of Its Kind World Food Day Contest

Aaron R. reciting his winning poem "Hunger Pains" | Hiram Laerw, Founder of Poetry X Hunger, announing the winners of the World Food Day Poetry Contest

16 October 2018, Washington, D.C. – Aaron R. of Arlington, Virginia, has been selected as the first place winner of the first-ever World Food Day Poetry Contest.  Followed by Jesse Alexander of Clinton, Maryland, and Teri Ellen Cross Davis of Silver Spring, MD, in second and third place. World Food Day, celebrated annually on October 16th, promotes awareness and action to end global hunger. It also commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945.

The FAO North America Office in partnership with Poetry X Hunger announced the inaugural contest in August 2018. The contest called for submissions from poets based in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia, on the theme of this year’s World Food Day theme of “Our Actions Are Our Future: A Zero Hunger World by 2030 Is Possible.”

A panel of renowned judges, featuring Carla Christopher, York Pennsylvania's 4th Poet Laureate, and widely published poet and playwright, Kim M. Baker, selected the top three winners and honorable mentions from over 36 submissions. The winners were awarded  USD $1000, $500, $250 respectively at the World Food Day Reception hosted by FAO’s Liaison Office for North America on Monday, October 15th in Washington, D.C.

Christopher and Baker were impressed with the amazing strength and diversity of poems that were submitted. The judges selected the winning poem “Hunger Pains” by Aaron R. Whitehead for its unequivocal message and rhythm that enraptures and inspires, followed by “Hunger #1” by Jesse Alexander, and “Shutter” by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. Honorable mentions include “Ode to the Body in the Duman River” by Meg Eden, “Hunger Game” by Henry Crawford, and “The Voice of Hunger” by Diane Wilbon Parks.

“The connection between poetry and hunger is awareness. I think through my words, I can create a picture of what people are going through. This contest has given me an opportunity to bring awareness to situations, like world hunger, that people take for granted,” said Aaron R., First Prize Winner of the inaugural World Food Day poetry contest. 

“Rising hunger and widespread prevalence of food insecurity globally call out for our urgent intervention. Poetry is language at its most distilled and strongest, and thus ideal to inspire empathy and action in the fight against hunger and malnutrition,” said Vimlendra Sharan, Director of FAO North America.

First conceived during a roundtable discussion on the “Power of Poetry to Address Hunger” hosted by FAO North America and Poetry X Hunger during the National Poetry Month in April 2018, the contest was an effort to engage poets and writers to lend their voices to issue surrounding hunger and malnutrition.

"It is great to see organizations like FAO encouraging so many powerful poetic voices to speak up," said Poetry X Hunger Founder Hiram Larew. Poetry X Hunger will continue to work with poets to engage them in issues surrounding hunger. “We thank all of our participants for sharing their poems and our judges for contributing to this initiative.” The poems will be kept as a collection for future dissemination to raise awareness about hunger and malnutrition.

For more information, please contact: Hiram Larew ([email protected]) and follow facebook.org/PoetryXHunger for the latest news.

Read the whole press release with the three winning poems and honorable mentions here.