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Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “My Hunger” By Jackson Neal

The Houston Youth Poet Laureate reads a poem that explores how the body is affected by loss.


Jackson Neal.


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In this sound portrait, we meet poet Jackson Neal. He talks about the night he was announced as the city’s Youth Poet Laureate, queer identity in poetry and where you might find him writing at night. He reads his poem, "My Hunger."

Jackson Neal is a freshman at the University of Houston and a three-time member of the youth poetry slam team, Meta-Four Houston. He is the 2017 and 2018 Space City Grand Slam Champion, 2018 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Writing, U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee and 2019 Southwest Regional Youth Poet Laureate. His writing and videos have been featured in the Houston Chronicle, Houston Public Media, Claremont Review and elsewhere.


My Hunger

like an ocean dried and dreaming of rain

like a book of names in a language that I lost

like cracked lips and a tongue in hand

like a tomb robbed before burial

like my hands
in every place they don't belong
in the fire, in the ground, in the wall


Like my mother's stomach empty, and two cells
and me and not

And isn't that life?

Not here, then here
and then a thousand kinds of leaving


This poem is reprinted with permission of the author.

Music used: Walking Man (excerpt) and Nix (excerpt) by Zoë Keating from Snowmelt and One Cello x 16 and Overturn by Alexandra Stréliski from Inscape

To learn more about this series, go here.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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