Please join us virtually on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th at 12 pm EDT, as we pay tribute to those who have served our country with a special Veteran Poetry Reading featuring the works of Veteran Poets from the CBAW community.

Please join us on Memorial Day as we pay tribute to those who have served our country with a special Veteran Poetry Reading featuring the distinguished works of CBAW Veteran Poets including Raina Baron, Donna Stove-Cody, Kim DeFiori, Kevin Basl, Lesley Mose, Joan Green, and Willie Young Jr. This event will be hosted and feature readings by two of our Veteran Facilitators, Ben Weakley and Joe Merritt.

Additionally, the event will feature the unveiling of the final work of art from our Collaborative Painting Project. This virtual event is open to all and free tickets are available for everyone. We also welcome donations to support Community Building Art Works programs for Veterans, service members, military families, and healthcare workers.

What: A Memorial Day poetry reading and gathering in honor of those who have served.

Where: Virtually via Zoom.

When: Memorial Day. Monday, May 29th, 2023 at 12pm EDT to 1:30 pm EDT.

How: Register via Eventbrite by clicking the button below.

About the Readers

Raina Baron

Raina Laliberte-Baron is a 33 year old transgender woman and disabled veteran. She joined the U.S. Navy in 2010, trained as a Firecontrol man, and was discharged in 2014. She suffers from major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder, as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Raina uses art and writing to explore her experience in the military, as well as her transgender identity. She lives in Massachusetts and has two adorable rescue dogs.

Donna Stove-Cody

Donna L. Stove-Cody, originally from Camden, N.J., now residing in Williamstown, NJ, was discharged from the US Army as an E-4 as an Officer’s Personnel Records Specialist Under Honorable Conditions. Her love for writing poetry won her an Editor’s Choice Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Poetry”, presented by and the International Library of Poetry. Her poetry is the portion of expression that speaks for emotions that is not so easily said out loud. It allows the pen to cry for me when I am ashamed of my own tears and allows me to bear my soul in a way that only the Creator of life can understand.

Kevin Basl

Kevin Basl is a writer and musician living near Ithaca, New York. He was a mobile radar operator in the U.S. Army. Over the past decade, he has taught many writing and art-marking workshops for service members, veterans, and their communities. He’s author of Midnight Cargo: Stories and Poems (forthcoming from Illuminated Press), and he’s co-author of a chapbook of poems: Corn, Coal & Yellow Ribbons (Out of Step Press).  

Lesley Mose

Lesley has always been an artisan at heart. Even during her military career, she did everything she could to gather as many military occupational specialties as possible. To Lesley, her job and career were her pride, joy and how she identified herself. When she was injured and medically retired, her spirits were initially crushed, and she struggled to figure out how she would be of any use to anyone. As with many veterans struggling with PTSD and overwhelming injuries, there were many dark days. When she was introduced to Art Therapy, artmaking became, and continues to be, a practice that brings a sense of completeness & belonging. Crochet was suggested by a therapist when coming home from BTB deployments in 2013, as a way to begin the healing process from PTSD. It was meant to serve to keep her hands busy & her mind occupied. She started by making scarves, hats, & blankets, having no idea that it would lead her to where she is today. Along the way, another service member gave her a love for woodworking & a very special Art Therapist gave her a love for varying types of art, introducing her to poets & musicians. This rekindled her lost love of writing & music. Leslie channeled her focus toward healing and out of that healing, her business started to grow. She recently took part in a juried exhibit with the VA and won at the Local Level in Richmond (for crochet/knitting), going on to compete and win at the National Level. In 2022 she was invited to participate in National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, FL. As the founder/co-owner of La Mosé Creations, LLC, she works on a plethora of things, including crochet dolls, blankets, scarves, photography, woodworking, resin, and more!

Kim DeFiori

Kim is a retired Army Officer. Last year she published her first book “Lessons from Thor: Healing with a Service Dog’s Touch” and had her first ever poem published in the CBAW Anthology “We Were Not Alone.” Kim received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the United States Military Academy, and MBA from Cornell University. She will start her PhD at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Health Policy and Management in the fall of 2022. Kim enjoys hanging out with cats, dogs, horses, and giraffes.

Willie Young

Willie graduated from High School in 1993 from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. From there he attended the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. He joined the Army and retired after 20 years of active duty military service as a military police officer. He was awarded the Kosovo Liberation medal following a peacetime deployment in the year 2000, The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal following a combat deployment to Afghanistan in 2003, and the Humanitarian Service Medal after being sent to Brooklyn, New York in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. He retired in Kansas City, Kansas with his five children Willie III, Ruby, Bianka and Karmen (the twins), and Sadie. His passions include photography, fishing, and all things related to the University of Oklahoma College Football program. (“Boomer Sooner!”)

Joan Green

Joan Green is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She earned her B.A. from Georgia Southern University in 1988; her teaching certificate from Augusta University in 1990 and completed her M.Ed. from Cambridge College in 2000. She taught from 1989-2017 in her hometown. In 2019, Joan and her husband, a USAF veteran, moved to the Northshore area outside New Orleans and began rebuilding their lives as disabled, empty nesters. In January 2021, Joan returned to Augusta, Georgia.

Joan is a widow, mom, Jamma, sister, aunt, friend and retired educator. She has survived rape; defeated alcoholism; earned a Black Belt in Kempo Karate; become disabled while working; loved and lost. She is using creativity in words and art along with a deliberately cultivated positive attitude to learn how to live alone; enjoy her life; and face its challenges. She has struggled intermittently with depression, anxiety and PTSD. She writes creative nonfiction, essays, flash, and poetry to help herself and others develop methods for coping with the vagaries of life. Her work has been published in three anthologies: We Were Not Alone: A Community Building Art Works Anthology; Tea With My Monster: A Mental Health Awareness Anthology from Beyond the Veil Press; How To Heal A Bloodline: A Mental Health Awareness Anthology from Beyond the Veil Press and online ‘In This Together’ A Digital Exhibit by Community Building Art Works.

She is still here. She has much to learn and some to teach.

About the Hosts

Ben Weakley

Ben Weakley spent fourteen years in the U.S. Army, beginning with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and finishing at a desk inside the Pentagon. He writes poetry and prose about the enduring nature of war and the human experience for veterans, their families, and anyone who would help them bear witness to war and its aftermath.

A believer in the power of words to empower and heal, Ben leads writing workshops for Active Duty Military, Veterans, their families and caregivers, as well as Frontline Health Care Workers and other communities of ordinary people bearing witness to a difficult world.

Ben lives in the Tri-Cities of Northeast Tennessee with his wife, two children, and a well-meaning but poorly behaved hound-dog.

Joe Merritt

Joe Merritt was medically retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2016 after 10 years of honorable service. Joe rediscovered art during his medical treatment and has a successful career as a professional artist, exhibiting his work and presenting gallery talks across the country. He is a steward of the veteran art community, leading art programming with active duty and veteran populations in DC, MD and VA.

Community Building Art Works (CBAW)

Community Building Art Works (CBAW) is a charitable organization that builds healthy and connected communities where veterans and civilians share creative expression, mutual understanding, and support through workshops led by professional artists. Seema Reza is the chair of CBAW and facilitates a multi-hospital arts program that encourages use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care, and socialization for those struggling with emotional and physical injuries.

Click here to see our full calendar of events.

Further details about our workshops, including what to expect & registration instructions, can be found on our FAQ page.