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Power Of Poetry

Poetry: (N) literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature. However, to many, it’s much more than this definition.

Diannely Antigua is one of New Hampshire’s most known poets, Portsmouth Poet Laureate, and now one of the Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellows. Through the Academy of American Poets fellowship, Diannely has chosen HAVEN as her nonprofit of choice.  

Diannely Antigua
Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I was born and raised in Massachusetts and didn’t exactly have the normal childhood that many experienced. However, that didn’t stop me. I received my BA in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where I won the Jack Kerouac Creative Writing Scholarship, which was just the beginning of all the wonderful things that would come my way. I then received my MFA at New York University, where I was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. That trip alone was transformative.

So, what made you want to partner with HAVEN?

One of the reasons I am so passionate about partnering with HAVEN is that in my own challenging and dark moments, I relied heavily on organizations like HAVEN. I grew up in a home riddled with violence and abuse. When I was three years old, my mother fled my abusive father, and for months we stayed in shelters across New England, even as far as Connecticut. I remember spending Christmas that year in a shelter, too young to fully understand everything that was happening, but old enough to know we were running for our lives. I wish I could say that the abuse ended there, but soon my mother remarried, and my stepfather was in many ways worse than my father. He was in and out of the house until I was 18. My poetry is born from these experiences and my own story of survival. 

Years later, I personally used HAVEN after I encountered a stalker while living in Portsmouth. After a quick Google search, I found HAVEN. I called and talked to one of their advocates who walked me through the process of filing a protective order. In a moment where I had felt so vulnerable, I was given the resources to feel empowered. Because of HAVEN, I was able to feel safe again in my new home. But I had always felt safe in the realm of my poetry. It was a place to explore, express myself, play with language, and reclaim my story. Poetry, too, had always empowered me. My history and seeing the work of HAVEN in action made it a no-brainer to choose HAVEN as my nonprofit.

Diannely with HAVEN
What is your goal in partnering with HAVEN through the Academy of American Fellowship?

I’m hoping that partnering with HAVEN will combine these two forces of empowerment for the greater good of supporting survivors. I’m excited that in March I’ll be leading a poetry workshop for HAVEN clients, staff, and volunteers. I see this as an opportunity for them to build community as they are communing deeper with themselves, to learn the sound of their own voices. I plan on providing support and reading poetry at some of HAVEN’s signature events, including Courage Speaks in April, which honors survivors’ pathways to dignity. I see this partnership reaching beyond just my term as poet laureate. Instead, I see it as an ongoing conversation, a connection between social change and poetry, that I believe will always be crucial for our communities. My goal is to provide a safe place not only for survivors to speak their truth but to also find their creativity as they express themselves in ways, they might not have been able to before.

So what’s next?

As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be hosting a workshop with HAVEN on March 14th that welcomes clients, staff, and volunteers to express themselves through poetry and art, in a safe environment. HAVEN will provide advocates for anyone who may need support. I’m excited to announce that my second book, Good Monster, will be published in May of this year. I’m also looking forward to speaking at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Kansas City on February 8th about the intersections of poetry and survival.

To find out more about Diannely’s upcoming events and projects, visit

HAVEN is honored and excited to work with Diannely through the Academy of American Poetry Fellowship. Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the United States’ leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program, which includes the Poet Laureate Fellowships. The organization also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit:

The upcoming workshop is made possible by the generous support of the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. For more information or how to sign up for the Poetry Workshop, email

Academy of American Poets Logo and HAVEN

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