Poets raise a voice on immigration

Two members of Kalamazoo 1st UMC edited a volume of poetry to benefit Justice For Our Neighbors.

KALAMAZOO, MI — An anthology on immigration and community called, “Immigration & Justice For Our Neighbors” was launched in Kalamazoo on April 19 at a community-wide event sponsored by the Kalamazoo Satellite Clinic of Justice For Our Neighbors of West Michigan. A second printing was done soon after its release as its first 400 copies sold out immediately. This unique and timely anthology was edited by Jennifer Clark and Miriam Downey, members of First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

“We couldn’t be more excited that the anthology is doing so well,” said Miriam Downey, co-editor of the anthology. “The feedback has been wonderful. Readers have been impressed by the quality of writing as well as the prominent poets and writers included in the anthology.”

The list of poets and writers includes 36 contributors, both local and not, established and new. Michigan representatives such as Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Buddy Hannah and Bonnie Jo Campbell are published, beside poets such as Naomi Shihab Nye and the 13th Poet Laureate of the U.S., Ted Kooser. One of the highlights is a group poem written by several Arcadia Elementary School children.

The anthology is a book that explores the concepts of immigration, neighborhood and how the two interact.

Proceeds from the anthology go to support the important work of the Justice for Our Neighbors ministry in Kalamazoo. People wishing to purchase the anthology should contact Justice For Our Neighbors-Kalamazoo, 212 S. Park Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007; Phone (888) 718-7775 or order it by mail. 

The book has had enthusiastic acceptance and support both locally and beyond.Taylor Bailey and Ruby Anderson, two Directors of the Board of the National United Methodist Women, are presenting the book for consideration as part of the denomination-wide UMW Reading Program. It will also be highlighted at the National JFON Roundtable in Detroit in September.

The Kalamazoo Public Library’s Book Club has included the publication in a Bag program, which is open to all Kalamazoo Public Library district resident cardholders. Karen Trout, Reading Together coordinator for the Kalamazoo Public Library said, “Adding this title to our Book Club in a Bag collection — and encouraging local dialogue about the issue of immigration — is a perfect way to put this institutional commitment into action.”

The Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) program was founded in 1999 by The United Methodist Church. The West Michigan JFON Office started in 2004 and has served over 2000 immigrant clients from over 60 nations. Since its start in November 2015 the Kalamazoo JFON Clinic has served over 175 clients.

Proceeds from the anthology go to support the important work of the Justice for Our Neighbors ministry in Kalamazoo. People wishing to purchase the anthology should contact Justice For Our Neighbors-Kalamazoo, 212 S. Park Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007; Phone (888) 718-7775 or order it by mail.

In this important time of significant challenges and uncertainties Justice For Our Neighbors helps immigrants navigate our country’s complex immigration regulations. JFON Clinics work to provide immigrants with limited income with affordable and quality legal services, advocacy and education. JFON services focus on family-based and humanitarian immigration law and advocates for them on issues of social justice and providing more welcoming communities.

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