Using Poetry to Raise Awareness about Diabetes

NPR recently published a story about young people in California using poetry and spoken word to raise awareness about diabetes in their families. Some of the statistics the article mentions surprised me: Did you know that half of African-American youths born in the year 2000 are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives?

I love to see public health campaigns that push the envelope and tackle issues in ways that aren’t part of the traditional tactics. This campaign does just that. Watch a few of the poems below.

Mise en Place

Evidently, I love poetry about Southern food. Here’s another one from Gravy.

Mise en Place
by Melissa Dickson

It’s a routine mole removal, but he charts
the dark sweep of skin inside his patient’s forearm,
an oven burn long since healed to this calligraphy.
He sees them every day, four or five inches beyond the palm,
proof that when the timer chimes its impatient trill
these women grab dishrags instead of oven mitts

It’s written here as clear as the cookbooks
she’s long since stopped consulting: the toddler lurching
into the scent of an unleashed oven, the slick
of applesauce to mop up, the rice and butter beans
simmering stovetop, the little thing it is to scar
an arm, and the sin it is to burn the cornbread.


An ode to food

I was flipping through the most recent issue of Gravy today and came across this gem of a poem. I sent it to my sister, who correctly pointed out that I should post it on my blog! So, here it is.

by Sandra Beasley

My father will never enjoy
the heavy, sunrise sweetness
of a golden tomato dashed with oil,
layered in basil. As with spinach,
as with olives, he tastes only
the claustrophobia
of salt his Texan mother
unleashed from a can
a half-century ago, feeding
four children on a budget.
We talk little of this:
the foods our parents
cook to mush, pepper to ash,
flavors forever rendered to chore;
that this too was a form of love.
What I remember is how,
during a snowstorm that stranded
our schoolbus, I hiked
to my grandmother’s instead.
And she made me not
chicken soup from scratch,
or a braise of bacon and cabbage,
but rather a tray of tater-tots
straight from freezer to oven.
They goldened like July.
We ate them with our fingers
while we played Scrabble, waiting
until it was safe to take me home.