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"It is my dream to see powerful spoken word pieces spit on the floors of federal institutions, senate hearings, and town hall meetings across America to impact social policy and enact social change."

~ Coup de Mot : Spoken Word Poetry as a Vehicle for Social Change
Steven T. Licardi, LMSW

International Spoken Word Poet & Mental Health Advocate

A Licensed Social Worker (NY / VA), Steven has performed his spoken word poetry from Alberta, Canada to Vigo, Spain; from Thessaloniki, Greece to Los Angeles, California. As a mental health advocate, he has spoken on a wide range of subjects and their intersections with mental health and mental illness. He believes in the power of poetry to dismantle the oppressive social systems that make us all unwell. Are you interested in featuring him at your next event? Contact us to request a press kit and booking information.

If I Looked Like What I’ve Been Through 

(1st Prize Winner in the 2014 Princess Ronkonkoma Productions Poetry Contest)


If I looked like what I've been through

I'd have the face of a woman

and a man

contorted into a kind of in-between

delicate and masculine

with eyes that pierce and lips that tempt

with a jaw of glass that slices like obsidian

and a brow that collects beads of sweat

where ideas fall to their deaths


If I looked like what I've been through

my face would be scarred with age 

ancient memories tucked under my tongue 

to escape is archaic speech 

wisdom exuding 

bleeding through childlike curiosity



If I looked like what I've been through

I'd have a heart where my brain is supposed to be

I'd have a brain where my heart is supposed to be

and they'd constantly be switching

thinking, feeling

fighting for what is right

neither able to decide who is winning 


If I looked like what I've been through

I'd be dressed in a three-piece straitjacket

with cufflinks

dressed to the nines in a canvas tux

with the images that cloud my mind painted on

It’s a metaphor

for my artistic fervor

my former affliction transformed into brilliance

no less insane


If I looked like what I've been through

I'd have cuts so deep in my wrists

that my hands would bend back as if attached with hinges

I'd have bible pages rolled up and tucked inside the veins

unfinished poems

dollar bills

that I'd unroll from time to time

to remind me…

to hold on


If I looked like what I've been through

my blood type would be ink

and you would see it coursing in sentences and verses

just beneath my skin


If I looked like what I've been through

my skin wouldn't be able tell you what race I am but

you would still judge me

I'd have the misplaced morality of a Christian

the pantheon of a Hindu

the hope of an Atheist

and the history 

of a Jew


If I looked like half as much as I've been through

I'd only be half a person

an incomplete masterwork

a magnum opus

loaded only with

dummy bullets

I wouldn't have half the passion

that bleeds like beads of sweat from my gaping pores

in rivulets of syntax

that I dab with loose-leaf paper

to preserve

what I've been through


If I looked like what I've been through...

you wouldn't even see me

You would only see the things that make me me 

but they are not me

You see

I am so much more than just what I have been through... 

I am infinitely stronger



"I have had the pleasure of seeing Steven present his amazing poems / prose at readings and events. If you're in his area, run, don't walk and check him out! His book is a wonderful, touching read. His words are fluid with a lyrical flow that engages and enlightens you simultaneously. Spiritual, emotional and layers deep. A perfect must read for anyone who wants to be floored, literally. Can't wait for his next one."

~ L. D. Montanino,

Author & Blogger 


"Steven Licardi's writing is poised on a razor's edge. He expertly balances serious content with a playful vocabulary, making his poems incredibly engaging and relatable. His work is provacative while remaining throughtful and sensitive to his audience Steven's poetry is fearless, peerless, and inspired." 

~ Meredith Nussbaum,

Performance Poet & Visual Artist  

The latest poetry collection from Steven T. Licardi, 'a billion burning dreams' is a profoundly raw dive into his own mental health journey. Including the award winning poem “If I Looked Like What I've Been Through,” the pieces are fierce, unapologetic, and radically vulnerable. Covering such themes as anxiety, family trauma, neurodiversity, healing, and heartache, this collection is perfect for patients and professionals alike. Whether you are on your own mental health journey or helping others to find their path, 'a billion burning dreams' is a testament to the triumphs of self-love and self-care.

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