Youville House Residents Tap Their Creativity in Many Voices Project

By Ildiko Szabo, Community Life Coordinator

Can older people be motivated to write a haiku on the spur of the moment? On Wednesday, January 14th, Youville House residents stepped up to the challenge and participated in the Many Voices Project, a creative response to recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island. The All Day Café at Youville House became a veritable college writing class as Many Voices Project leader Jessica Lander helped residents put their feelings into words that fit the haiku pattern.

She started the process by discussing the events in Ferguson that sparked violence and national outrage. She raised the issues of police reactions, graphic newsreels, unrest, opinions, memories, and recurring events. Will we ever learn? Can we live in peace?

She asked us what single word jumped out for us as we considered all these feelings and ideas.  Each person wrote one word on a file card: violence, fear, anger, empathy, parents, police, justice, hope, guns…  Each table was asked to pick three of these cards with one word on it and then write a haiku: 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables again. These powerful haiku poems were the result:


Violence, riots, guns

Stop hate and injustice now

We need trust and love.


Time is needed now

Hope is needed for oneself

Believe in goodness


Control your anger

We need humor and friends

Peaceful thoughts now


Dear daughter of mine

I look into this lost world

And fear your future.


Police must be calm

When approaching a subject

Young ones must be calm


We have lost our way

We need a new direction

We must turn from fear


Jihadist anger

police too eager to shoot

riding streets in tanks