How To Survive: Pandemic Poetry
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
When District Lit put out a call for "How To" poetry in response to quarantine and the pandemic my poem "Robberies" came to mind right away. The act of fashioning face masks from repurposed items was everywhere.
Pandemic poetry was everywhere too. If what Michael Jordan did on a basketball court would accurately be called "poetry," then the mass response to COVID-19 held poetic undertones as well. My mother and her friends were sewing masks despite eye strain. Despite shortages, there were people all around the country fashioning masks from old shirts and scarves.
I'd already written a fairly comprehensive piece centered on the "For Dummies" series. This strange reality where everyone dressed like train robbers was too much to resist.
At the heart of all poetry for me is the idea of seeing things differently. This is true in my visual art as well. Collage and syntax allow words and images to take on new meanings beyond their original purpose.
All of us had a new vocabulary as COVID-19 descended and settled. "Social Distancing," is a great example.
So is "Dedensifying."
But there are also words like "gowning" that seemed so formal and extravagant prior to COVID. In the post-pandemic world gowning is more about wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) than preparing for a wedding, prom, or catwalk.
During quarantine, the new vocabulary turned us all to tailors. All of us were sewing gowns.
(Image above is Kurt Cole Eidsvig original art from 2020: Gowning)
In a robbery, something is stolen. In "robberies" the poem steals from discarded memories and repurposed fabrics to protect the wearer.
My poetry, and the collage elements, also borrow from pop. True as well with my visual art, I hope I can be forgiven for conjuring Val Kilmer in my mind as the ultimate cowboy.
In every robbery movie, there is an element of recovery. In "robberies" the central question is what we can realistically preserve and what we need to change and alter and let go of.
I am honored to be part of a brand new set of "How To" ideas. During quarantine much or my pandemic poetry has been engaged with a love song to the past.
But the next step is always mending for the future. Check out "Robberies" at District Lit.
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