(Left to right) Dr. Lynne Morrow, Kevin Fisher-Paulson, Victor Floyd, Larry Chung, Kristin Clayton-Knesevic, Rick Harrell and Todd Butillo. Photo by Lisa Bottom
By Lisa Bottom and Conway Jones
Heroes’ Voices celebrated the second annual National Veteran’s Poetry contest at The General’s Residence, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, San Francisco.
The event, called “The Soldier’s Journey,” was an artistic exploration into the lives, and unique experiences that comes with being a soldier. The program was introduced by Richard Harrell, Executive Director of Heroes’ Voices.
It was the culmination of a national poetry contest for veterans. Veterans from all branches of Service were invited to submit poetry to a distinguished jury, which included local poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, and author Major General John Borling, Rick Davis, poet Colonel David Rabb, and local Poet Laureate of San Francisco Kim Shuck.
The event highlighted the winners of the Poetry Contest, along with the premiere of a new musical work by composer Michael Conley, and provided music and poetry exploring war, peace, as well as soldiers’ experiences before, during and after battle.
The winning entry was awarded to Bill Glose of Yorktown, Virginia for his poem titled “I.E.D.” Mr. Glose won a $1,000 first prize for his work.
A special poem titled “Four Angels” was read by poet Robert Kaplan, dedicated to the three healthcare workers who lost their lives at The Pathway Home in Yountville. These brave women will long be remembered for their dedicated work with Veterans suffering the effects of PTSD.
Guest readers included San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck, and Marine veteran Paul Cox, Director of the American Legion War Memorial Commission. Kevin Fisher-Paulsen, also participated as both a reader and singer. Mr. Fisher-Paulsen was Captain at the San Francisco County Jail, which has hosted Heroes’ Voices in providing music therapy and poetry writing for Veterans in their facility.
Another moving guest reader was poet and Gold Star mother Mary Shea.
Musical entertainment expressed the soldiers’ experiences through several wars, including WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. Musicians and soloists included Lynne Morrow, Director, Oakland Symphony Chorus and Professor of Music at Sonoma State; Michael Conley, Music Director of Calvary Presbyterian Church; Larry Chung, Director of Guitar Corps; and Guitar Corps veterans Todd Butillo and Joseph G. La Rocca.
Heroes’ Voices is a San Francisco based non-profit serving veterans with the power of music and poetry to build confidence and community.
For further information, visit the website: www.heroesvoices.org