Justice – And Poetry – For All: Voices of Struggle in the Making of America

Justice – And Poetry – For All:  Voices of Struggle in the Making of America

a collaboration between

 Sundog Poetry Center, Peace and Justice Center of Burlington, Young Writers Project, and Vermont Access Network (MMCTV)

2018 – 2020

We are currently seeking sponsors for each event and for the series as a whole. Please see project overview below our sponsor information.

To become a sponsor of a particular event or the entire series, contact Sundog Poetry Center vice-president, Tamra Higgins, at 802-598-0340 or via email. Donations of any size are helpful. To make a donation, please click here or one of the sponsorship levels below. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Individual Event Platinum Sponsor (1 event) Friend of Justice – and Poetry – for All

Corporate Series Platinum Sponsor   Corporate Series Bronze Sponsor
Logo/brand on all program series and individual event materials

Banner ad on program and individual event web page

Banner on all program and individual event e-mail correspondence

Opportunity to provide 2-minute welcome remarks at each event

A limited-edition poster of each event

$15,000 (includes all 9 events; can be given in installments)


Logo/brand on all program series and individual events materials

Banner ad on program and individual events web page

Banner on all program and individual event e-mail correspondence

A limited-edition poster of each event

$9,000 (includes all 9 events; can be given in installments)


Logo/brand on all specific event materials

Banner ad on specific event web page

Banner on all specific event e-mail correspondence

A limited-edition poster of the event


  Listed as supported on event web page and in corresponding collateral materials

Exclusive annual branded poster collection for the event (produced annually, 3 total)



As we plan the series, we will be selecting speakers and readers to participate. If you would like to be involved in some of the planning sessions or are interested in speaking or reading at an event, please contact Tamra at the number or email listed above.

Project Overview

Justice – and Poetry – For All aspires to raise Vermonters’ awareness of the persistent courage shown by those deemed marginal as they have struggled – and still struggle – for respect, recognition and inclusion in American democracy. Although often cited as one of the “whitest states in the nation,” Vermont’s historical landscape reveals how its populations have engaged from the early eighteenth century in the struggles toward inclusion of the many who have sought to become Americans. These tensions of class, race, and gender are often described polemically or in the language of the social sciences. Why, then, poetry? We believe poetry’s uncanny ability to connect our outer lives with our inner selves, to give voice to what is often left unspoken, will enable audiences at the events we create to inhabit, however briefly, the lives of others.

Our project is multifaceted: literary, historical, and geographical. Inspired by Langston Hughes’s ambition to “sing America” and by the inclusive and wonderful lists of common Americans which Walt Whitman included in “Song of Myself,” the project involves a nine-stop cultural trail which culminates at the State House in Montpelier in the Fall of 2020. This cultural mapping of Vermont tells an American story of how one small rural state embodies its own conflicted stories of first peoples and settlers, slavery and the freedom trail, women coming into possession of their own lives, immigrant laborers, and 21st century refugees resettling into a foreign culture. At each stop, each historic site, the voices of poets and readers will create a vital link between past and present. Highlighting such a physical trail of revelation through the voices of America’s poets who have kept alive the stories of struggle in the poetry of social justice will inform us about who we are and who we want to become as individuals and as a nation.

Experienced in producing lively poetry events, Sundog Poetry Center will carefully planned the Justice—And Poetry—For All cultural trail events. Each event, filmed by Vermont Access Television, will begin with introductory remarks that situate the topic and place in Vermont’s history and connect both to our present-day experiences. Accomplished poets and actors will then take the stage to share American poems of social justice. They will be followed by students selected by the Young Writers Project, who will read their own work written in workshops associated with each theme and/or place. Lastly, we will invite readers from the audience who have written poems sparked by prompts, announced in advance. Each event will then end with refreshments and conversation among participants.

To broaden the audience of our program, Vermont Access Network (VANS) will be a collaborator in the project. Their documentation of Justice – and Poetry – For All will enable schools and libraries to share the programming with many more than those in attendance. They will also play an instrumental role in marketing the series through public service announcements.

Below we have listed our eight focus groups.  All the venues for the events will be in Vermont. We are currently working on scheduling the actual dates, speakers, and readers. We are committed to serving all areas of the state.

  1. Abenaki
  2. African Americans in Vermont
  3. Immigrant Laborers/Migrant Workers
  4. Women
  5. The Incarcerated
  6. Children in Poverty
  7. Refugees
  8. LGBTQ
  9. Culminating event at State House Celebration

Who will take part?

There are four collaborating organizations involved with Justice – And Poetry – For All: Voices of Struggle in the Making of America. These include the lead organization, Sundog Poetry Center, Inc. the Peace and Justice Center, the Young Writers Project, and Vermont Access Network. These four organizations will combine resources to research the history of each event’s focus group and the link between the group’s historical context to present day life in Vermont and in America. This research will culminate in suggested opening remarks for the events’ speakers, the creation of writing prompts for each event so that the public and students can write pertinent pieces to share, and the selection of poems to be included in the program.

Sundog Poetry Center, Inc. is a state-wide organization whose mission is to support poets and promote poetry as necessary to our cultural lives. Board member and our project director is Mary Jane Dickerson, Professor Emerita of the University of Vermont where she taught in the English Department for 34 years. A second Sundog Poetry board member involved in the project, Judith Yarnall, is Professor Emerita of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College, Vermont, where she taught for over twelve years.

The Peace and Justice Center (PJC), a Burlington institution of 38 years, brings to our project a wealth of recent local history and an important link to the present-day situation of our chosen groups.

The Young Writers Project (YWP), a state-wide literary program with weekly exposure on Vermont’s public radio station and a strong student-advocate for the arts, will be able to focus solely on the student portion of our program, organize and oversee quality student writing workshops, which will allow students to have an important role in each event.

Vermont Access Network, with station MMCTV as the lead station and led by Executive Director Angelike Contis, has partnered with Sundog Poetry in the past in the filming of the state-wide program, Poets and Their Craft Lecture Series.

Advisors from each of the focus groups will be invited to counsel the project’s organizers.

Speakers, Poets, Students will present information and share poetry pertinent to the struggles each focus group has faced.

Audience members can also participate by writing poetry in response to a variety of prompts offered in early 2018 and submitting their poetry to Sundog at sundogpoetry@gmail.com for possible selection for the event.

Who Will Benefit

It is our goal to reach as many people as possible in Vermont with Justice – And Poetry – For All. Beneficiaries include members of the general public as the events unfold and individuals learn about each group’s often untold past and of their particular struggles in the making of America. By holding the events in different locations of the state, we bring literary, cultural, and historical programming directly to rural areas that are often out of reach of such live offerings. By filming the events, we reach students of all ages through teachers accessing the events at any time on our website or through Vermont Access Network stations. The potential is present to reach tens of thousands – or more.

Tentative Schedule of Events

In 2018, we will hold the first two of the project’s nine events. These will possibly be: Abenaki, People of the Dawn, which could take place in either  Swanton, Vermont or Mississquoi Union High School in Highgate, Vermont and African-Americans in Vermont, hopefully taking place at the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, Vermont. In 2019, we continue the series with an additional three events. These include Immigrant and Migrant Laborers perhaps taking place in Winooski, Vermont in February, Women at a designated site in Barre, Vermont in June, and Children in Poverty in southern Vermont in October. 2020 brings our final three events as well as our culminating event. Our groups of focus include The Incarcerated to take place in perhaps Windsor, Vermont, New Refugees which will may take place in either Burlington or Winosski, the event focused on the rights of LGBTQ in Burlington,  and the culminating event Justice – And Poetry – For All, which will take place at the State House in Montpelier, Vermont’s capitol.


At the end of the project, an anthology will be created from the information and poetry shared at each event.