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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

"This Thing Called Poetry" an Anthology of Poetry by Young Adults with Cancer, from Finishing Line Press


“This Thing Called Poetry
An Anthology of Poetry
by Young Adults with Cancer

forthcoming this fall
Edited by Kathleen Henderson Staudt

Finishing Line Press and the Brendan Ogg Memorial Fund have curated here an anthology of poetry featuring work by young adults diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 39.   This anthology highlights work by published writers as well as those who are just finding their voice, for whom life has been altered by cancer.

Background:  Brendan Ogg, an aspiring writer, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 19 during his sophomore year at the University of Michigan.  Just before Brendan passed away at the age of 20, we learned that a collection of his poems, Summer Becomes Absurd, would be published by Finishing Line Press.  While acceptance of a chapbook is quite an accomplishment for any writer, for Brendan it took on additional significance.  He took comfort in knowing that he would be leaving a professional legacy that acknowledged his gifts and hopes for life cut short.   

The Brendan Ogg Memorial Fund, , sponsors of this project, focuses on issues related to young adults  with cancer. An estimated 70,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year – the AYA cohort, as defined by National Institute of Health. This is 6-7 times the number of children aged 0-14 diagnosed with cancer and represents 5% of total cancer diagnoses in the US.  Navigating cancer includes addressing needs more pronounced for this age group:  independence, identity, managing career and family, dating, fertility and friendships among others.  Whatever the outcome, a cancer diagnosis at this time of life, when one is just beginning the future-directed process of crafting an meaningful adulthood, becomes an encounter with mortality.  

The poems in this volume reflect the challenges that come with this encounter, from anger to dark humor, from despair to a deepened appreciation of life and relationships. Some of the poets represented here are  previously published, even well established, and we have included some work that is published posthumously.   Others are relatively new to poetry, finding in it a medium for exploring and naming their particular experiences of life.  Our hope is that the work collected here will give a fresh and compelling hearing to those experiences, for family members, caregivers and medical professionals, and that it may encourage other young adults to name and claim their own experiences as they continue with their lives, in the face of a cancer diagnosis.

Kathleen Henderson Staudt has worked as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at Virginia Theological Seminary, Wesley Seminary, the University of Maryland and Washington National Cathedral.  She is the author of three books of poetry:  Annunciations:  Poems out of Scripture; Waving Back: Poems of Mothering Life,  and Good Places.  Kathy and Brendan Ogg collaborated on Brendan’s book of poems, Summer Becomes Absurd.

This Thing Called Poetry”:  An Anthology of Poems by Young Adults with Cancer


Interminable, by Veronica Morgan

Cat with a C, by Barlow Adams

Everything My Skin can Feel, by Jodi Andrews

After Radiation, by Jennifer Franklin

Counting, by Katelyn O’Malley

How to Talk to a Sick Woman, by Anya Krugovoy Silver

Tuesday (Meadowcrest), by Kimberly Jae

The End of the Appointment, by Kyle Williams McGinn

Technology and a New World – 3 poems by Crystal Payne

Why Chemo? by Lia Burnham

To My Neurosurgeon, by Brendan Ogg

Poem to My Litter, by Max Ritvo

What We Have, by Jennifer Franklin

Eat, by Kyle William McGinn

Cachexia, by Max Ritvo

Off, by Amy Reichbach

Scars, by Kathleen Henderson Staudt

Touching You, by Lori Lasseter Hamilton

When Someone Saw the Jagged Scar Behind Mmy Knee, by Jodi Andrews

saying no, by Amy Reichbach

I Miss my Before, by Amy Reichbach

The Curse of a Strong Back, by Kimberly Jaye

Waking Dream, by Kathleen Henderson Staudt

The Light this Morning, by Kyle William McGinn

Au bade, by Brendan Ogg

Nocturne, by Anya Krugovoy Silver

How to love a survivor, by Amy Reichbach

Question and Answer:  A Prophecy, by Kathleen Henderson Staudt

To the Conductor Who Thought I’d Died Because I Now Take a Later Train, by Jennifer Franklin

Afternoon, by Max Ritvo

The first time I realized I might not be alive, by Camila Saavedra

GoodbyeOctober , by Marika Warden, (November 2010)

To Walk Away in the Nighttime, by Morrow Toomey

Exactly Wrong, by Brendan Ogg

After All, by Andrea Hackbarth

Talk About Something Else, by Katelyn O’Malley

Late Summer, by Anya Krugovoy Silver

Home, by Britney Block

South Carolina, by Brendan Ogg

Water Women, by Carole O’Toole

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