Because April is “National Poetry Month,” Hill’s own published, award-winning poet Erik Mortenson is celebrating by sharing a poem a day with The Hill community, something he did last year and is continuing this year.
Erik recently published an award-winning chapbook, The Fifteenth Station (Accents Publishing.) All proceeds from the book will go toward supporting Rwandan women and children with HIV/AIDS.
The Hill’s website describes Erik’s poetry project and the inspiration for it in more detail here, but here are some snippets to whet your literary appetite:
“Mortenson has published a chapbook of poems that share the wrenching sadness, isolation, and physical suffering experienced by an impoverished young African woman with AIDS. The structure for the 15 poems, collectively titled The Fifteenth Station, mirrors the 14 Stations of the Cross that appear in Roman Catholic churches to commemorate the final hours of Jesus Christ.
“Mortenson – who writes as E.K. Mortenson – began conducting extensive research for this project in 2009, delving into religious imagery, medical reports from the World Health Service, and cultural background, all of which he synthesized into poems written in several different voices, primarily that of the woman with AIDS. Each poem (or “station”) advances and flows into the next….
“Late last summer, when The Fifteenth Station won the Judge’s Choice award in the Accents 2012 Poetry Chapbook Contest, Mortenson donated his modest prize money to Partners in Health and pledged to also donate every penny of his chapbook sales profits. To his delight, his publisher, Accents Publishing, has agreed to match his prize money and contribute 50 percent of its own profits from the chapbook sales to Partners in Health.
“‘In the small poetry press world — where presses operate on, at best, a shoestring budget — this is virtually unheard of,’ Mortenson says. ‘This is a most gracious gift.’
“Furthermore, Zachary Lehman, Headmaster of The Hill School, promised to match Mortenson’s prize money on behalf of the School. His offer ties in well with the theme established for students for The Hill’s 2012-13 school year, “What can I do?”
“‘Although the contributions themselves are small, I am hoping to create a groundswell of concern,” Mortenson says. “The book is $5. That’s like, what? A large cup of coffee at Starbuck’s? Now half of that money will go to women and children who need it most.'”
Congratulations to Erik for getting his work published and using his poetry to educate and inspire compassion for others!