Empty Shoes: Poems on the Hungry and the Homeless


Greta Aart lives in Paris, France. Besides writing, she also plays classical piano and the ancient Chinese zither. Aart hopes to continue to bring music and poetry to the homeless.

M. Lee Alexander’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and her chapbook Observatory was published in 2007. She teaches creative writing at William and Mary and resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Austin Alexis has contributed to canned-food drives for homeless at New York City College of Technology. He has written fiction about homelessness and was a Bronx Arts Council panelist.

Dori Appel has been a Red Cross disaster volunteer for several years. She is the author of a collection of poems, Another Rude Awakening, as well as many produced and published plays.

Linda Aschbrenner of Marshfield, Wisconsin, published the poetry journal Free Verse, issues one through 100. In addition, her Marsh River Editions has published 16 chapbooks. She works with homeless poems.

Mary Jo Balistreri lives each day with her husband in a poem of woods, water, and wild life. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and playing the piano. She is also involved with the local food pantry and has worked with Loaves and Fishes. Her book of poems, Joy in the Morning, was published in 2008.

Madeleine Beckman is the author of Dead Boyfriends, a poetry collection (LinearArts Books). Ms. Beckman works as an editor and teaches creative writing and journalism at Stern College for Women. She lives in New York City.

Scott J. Brooks was born and raised in rural Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on the western shores of Lake Michigan. He is currently a counselor in Oshkosh, where he works with people with disabilities.

Alan Catlin recently retired from his unchosen profession as a barman to concentrate on his poetry and his fictional memoirs. Catlin’s latest poetry chapbooks are Only the Dead Know Albany, from sunnyoutside.com, The Effects of Sunlight on Fog, from Bright Hill, and Me in Suits, from Madman Ink.

Jan Chronister lives in Maple, Wisconsin, and teaches writing part time. Fresh produce from her garden goes to the Union Gospel Mission in Duluth, Minnesota, whenever possible.

Tom L. Conroy is a poet and a publisher/editor of The League of Laboring Poets. He volunteers at an abused women’s safe haven, where he teaches them how to keep journals and start to express themselves through their writing.

Thea F. Daigler taught high school for 25 years. After the passing of her 15-year-old son, she took to writing to calm the homelessness of her psyche. Daigler lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Andrew Davis was in Illinois, moved around a lot, and ended up in Houston, Minnesota. Davis has a job, but writing fiction, drama, essays, and the occasional poem constitute his true desire.

Krikor Der Hohannesian’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, The New Renaissance, and Permafrost. He also serves as Assistant Treasurer of the New England Poetry Club.

Bruce Dethlefsen delivered telegrams, was a night watchman in a cave, taught juggling, and set up libraries in Honduras. Bruce has three poetry volumes published and lives in Westfield, Wisconsin.

Dave Dolle lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He works as a physical therapist technician at Franciscan-Skemp Hospital. He is thoroughly in love with writing and practicing the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Dolle is currently working on his second novel.

Mary L. Downs volunteered at LEAVEN, an assistance program for people in crisis. Her poems have appeared in Fox Cry Review, The Lyric, and the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.

Naomi Fast earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from Portland State University, where she was the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Award. The Willamette and Congo rivers often appear in her poetry.

Barbara Flaherty, author of Holy Madness, dedicated to her brother who died on the streets, and Doing It Another Way: The Basic Text, has volunteered in two shelters and supervised a treatment center for homeless people.

Gretchen Fletcher leads writing workshops for Florida Center for the Book, in Ft. Lauderdale. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and journals including The Formalist, Inkwell, and Poetry as Spiritual Practice.

Nancy Gauquier has once been homeless and stayed in a shelter in New York. Currently, she lives in Santa Cruz, California. Her poems have appeared in Free Verse, Poesy, Blind Man’s Rainbow, Zen Baby, Thema, and online in Flashquake and Andwerve.

Caroline Gill, winner of the 2007 Petra Kenney Poetry Competition (general section), lives in Swansea, Wales, UK. She has worked alongside international refugees in Rome as a mission Field Partner.

Ed Galing, at 90 years of age, has been termed “Poet of the Greatest Generation.” He is a World War II veteran and former columnist. Galing is the poet laureate of Hatboro, Pennsylvania. He has been published in Main Street Rag, HazMat Review, and many other journals in the States.

Kenneth P. Gurney, author of A Place to Keep Spent Time and Greeting Card and Other Poems, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he manages a stress-free existence with the wind.

Shelly L. Hall lives and writes in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She is the author of two volumes of poetry: Tonguebones and Mind of Cups.

David Hart teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He fills notebooks with poetry, short stories, and folk-music lyrics, when he is not biking or playing guitar.

Deborah Hauser is a poet, writer, and teacher living in Babylon, New York, with her husband and her two cats, Hunter and Hemingway. She has published poetry in Focus: Stony Brook University Women’s Studies Department Literary Journal, Midwest Poetry Review, and Sotto Voce.

Laura Heidy-Halberstein lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and is a former medic who worked a simultaneous 12 years in an Indiana ER and for the Munster Fire Department.

Randall Horton is an advocate for the homeless and for prison reform, having been homeless and in prison. Currently, he teaches at SUNY Albany and is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing.

Susan Kileen writes from her century-old farmhouse and is a member of Stone Kettle Poets. Her work has appeared in Wisconsin Review, the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Free Verse, Rock River Anthology, and Poetry and Praise. She is a recipient of the Wisconsin Regional Writers’ Association Jade Ring Award for short stories.

Judy Kolosso obsesses over saving wild places and Wisconsin barns. She writes from her home near Slinger and from her family’s farm in Neenah.

Ellen Kort served as Wisconsin’s first poet laureate from 2000 to 2004. She has received several state and national awards and travels widely as a speaker and workshop facilitator.

Jackson Lassiter is the Administrative Director for the George Washington University School of Business, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management. His poems have appeared online in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Boiling River, and Umbrella Poetry Journal, and in print in Apocalypse Literary Arts Magazine.

Janet Leahy is an advocate for peace and justice. Her chapbook is titled The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq. She lives and writes in New Berlin, Wisconsin.

Michele Leavitt experienced homelessness as a teenage runaway in the 1970s. During the 1980s and 1990s, she represented homeless people as a public defender and also worked for a shelter for battered women. Some of her family members are currently homeless.

Sharmagne Leland-St. John, a 2007 Pushcart Prize nominee, is a Native American poet, a concert performer, a lyricist, an artist, a filmmaker, and Editor-in-Chief of Quill and Parchment. She has published three books of poetry and co-authored a book on film-production design.

Elda Lepak resides in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She is retired, yet her mind and body keep active through travel, grandchildren, kayaking, hiking, golfing, reading, and researching her family roots. All provide subjects for her poetry and photography.

Amelia Levchenko is a freshman in the Honors Program at the University of Wyoming, majoring in Dance and Theatre. “Oyster Girl” is from her collection of poems, Buffalo Dancers in the Heart of America, which chronicles her high school experiences.

Ellaraine Lockie is a poet, a nonfiction writer, an essayist, and a hand papermaker who has received eleven Pushcart nominations and many awards. Her most recent publication is an art broadside, Mod Gods and Luggage Straps, from BrickBat Revue.

Elizabeth Mastin lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she is the lunch coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. She is indebted to her poetry mentor, Peter Lawlor, Poet Laureate of Whidbey Island, whose home is the sea.

Jeri McCormick is from Madison, Wisconsin. She was awarded a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship and has received several awards in Ireland. Her book, When It Came Time, was published by Ireland’s Salmon Publishing, Ltd., and won an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association.

Stephen Mead is an artist and writer living in northeastern New York. His poetry has appeared in Bellowing Ark, Onionhead, and Invert. His artwork is an eclectic blend of cubism, classic, and modern imagery.

Don Melcher is a retired engineer from Chicago, now living in rural Wisconsin. He has studied painting at the American Academy of Art. Melcher does volunteer work for the local Interfaith and Hospice, which includes working with some homeless persons.

Roger Midgett has won poetry awards from Return to Creativity and The Presence Journal. As a mental health professional in Seattle, he often works with people who are homeless.

Denise Amodeo Miller is a poet, writer, and teacher living in Buffalo, New York. She is an active member of The Buffalo Writers Meetup. Her award-winning poetry appeared in Sol Magazine Spring 2006, and others in two local anthologies.

P. C. Moorehead finds meaning in solitude, silence, and the beauty of nature. These nurture her relationships with others. A retired therapist, she appreciates having time to express herself creatively.

Wilda Morris is the author of a nonfiction book, Stop the Violence! Educating Ourselves to Protect Our Youth, and of Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant.

Joshua Moses is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a Ruth L. Kirchstein Fellow with the National Institute of Mental Health and Research Director for the New York City Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

Bruce Muench is a Navy veteran of W.W.II. Professionally, he is an aquatic biologist, having worked throughout the United States for the past sixty years. He sometimes serves at a soup kitchen in Rockford, Illinois.

Pamela Olson works as an advocate for children with disabilities in Alabama. She has been writing poetry for a number of years. She is married with two adult children.

Helen Padway lives, works, and laughs in Glendale, Wisconsin. She thinks poets tell the truth and can motivate us to make the world a better place.

Kathleen H. Phillips’ life experiences as daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, observant walker, and curious traveler have found their way into her poetry. She is grateful to Wisconsin’s many creative poets for their inspiration and support; they have made the past nine years of writing a joy for her. She lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

David S. Pointer currently resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with his two daughters. He has published widely in small presses and recently had a young-reader poem on display at the Mauch Chunk Museum in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

John J. Quirk is a member of Chicago’s Homeless Action Committee and a representative on the All-Agency Member’s Council of Thresholds, a social-service organization for persons who are both homeless and psychologically disabled.

Gamze Randolph is originally from Istanbul, Turkey. She feels blessed by the love and care she receives from her Turkish and American families. She hopes that every person in need of a warm home and love will one day find it.

Patrick T. Randolph and his soul-inspiring wife, Gamze, live on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. He teaches academic and creative writing in the English as a Second Language Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The homeless have been a central part of his psyche since 1990.

Gerald R. Randolph and his wife, Darlene, live in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He is a retired English professor who fills his afternoons with woodworking, writing tanka, and winking at his wife. Randolph moved his family from the city to the woods in 1970, where he ran a self-sufficient farm in northwestern Wisconsin.

Jenna Rindo worked as a nursing assistant on a neuro floor and then as a pediatric intensive care nurse. She now teaches English as a Second Language to Hmong, Arabic, and Spanish students. She believes one kind action leads to another.

Lou Roach, a former psychotherapist, writes poetry and freelance articles in Poynette, Wisconsin. She has written two collections of poems: A Different Muse and For Now.

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York poet who treasures the fact that she has a good roof over her head, under which she writes poetry that has been published in such literary journals as Connecticut Review and Jabberwock. In October 2006, Rosenthal was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Judy Roy is a retired psychologist and French teacher. She writes poetry in the boreal forest of Door County. Her work has been published in Wisconsin People & Ideas, Free Verse, The Peninsula Pulse, Hummingbird, and other publications. She is a co-author of the chapbook Slightly Off Q.

Clara Sala is a poet, a singer, and an educator. Her work is informed by the unity of flesh, heart, and spirit. She often writes for those whose voices are seldom heard: women, children, the homeless, and the poor.

Nancy Scott is a social worker, an activist, and a foster and adoptive parent. She has spent decades helping homeless families and children find housing. Scott has turned many of her experiences into poetry.

Shizue Seigels grandparents managed a single-room occupancy hotel in Stockton, California. Their children were too poor to realize they were poor; their wealth was in their hearts.

Noel Sloboda lives in Pennsylvania, with his wife and several rescued cats and dogs. He is the author of the poetry collection Shell Games.

Lester Smith is president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the primary motivator behind Popcorn Press. Days he works as a writer and technologist for an educational publishing house. He lives in Delavan, Wisconsin, with his wife and best friend, Jenny.

Henrietta Sparks lives in Carpinteria, California, a small town near Santa Barbara. She retired from counseling at a Community College and a private therapy practice. Her poetry comes from these experiences and is always about relationships. Sparks spends her time writing, reading poetry, walking on the beach, and mucking around in tide pools.

Spiel spends about sixty hours per week making paintings or writing poetry about personal conflict and social consciousness. He has been involved in the arts all seven decades of his life.

J. J. Steinfeld has published a novel; nine short story collections, the most recent being Would You Hide Me? (Gaspereau Press); and a poetry collection, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press). He resides on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Mary Jo Stich, native of Illinois, now of New Denmark, Wisconsin, uses her hilltop home as inspiration for poetry, photography, and music. Gardening is thrown in for good measure.

Dorothy Stone’s core was shaped in North Dakota; New York theatre added sparkle; and New England provided the home where she and her late husband shared their love affair with words.

Julian I. Taber worked in the Veterans Administration, treating veterans made homeless as a result of pathological gambling, alcoholism, and other addictions. His most recent book is titled Addictions Anonymous.

Katrin Talbot’s poetry collection, St. Cecilia’s Daze, is to be published by Parallel Press. Her mother’s work for an Australian aid agency has given her a lifetime awareness of hunger and poverty. Talbot also seeks poetry while working with subtle images in her photography.

Susan F. Kirch-Thibado currently lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin, with her husband, Wayne. Kirch-Thibado has taught poetry classes to adults through the organization Individual Learning in Retirement and has had her work published in several state and national publications. Along with writing, gardening and yoga keep her soul balanced.

June Thompson does freelance writing for the Marshfield News-Herald. She lives in Neillsville, Wisconsin. Thompson has had poems published in Free Verse and The Rockford Review. She tries to focus her writings on the human condition. Thompson is currently writing a memoir.

Mary Langer Thompson’s writing appears in various journals. Currently an educator in California, she wants people to know that homeless children attend public schools, and that is where we can begin to help.

Larry Wahler “came of age” with a rucksack on his back, crisscrossing most of America while learning the spirit of homelessness in soup kitchens by day and under cold bridges at night.

Bill Zavatsky published Where X Marks the Spot in 2006. The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud, co-translated with Ron Padgett, was reissued in 2008. He lives in New York City and teaches English at the Trinity School.