Poetry in the Time of a Pandemic

As this pandemic is spreading, and I’ve been going to work at the hospital Monday through Friday, I’ve been carrying around with me two pocket books by Pema Chödrön that have offered me great guidance. In them, one of the concepts that she talks about is bodhichitta, a softness of the heart that appears when one stays open to suffering and pain. It is so important for us, during this crisis, to stay open and kind, and not react in fear. We also must be kind to ourselves when we fail to do these things.

I’ve been searching for poems to read that speak to this. The concept of bodhichitta, whether intentionally or not, appears to be present in Jason Shinder’s poem, Arrow Breaking Apart. I’d also like to think it’s present in Toi Derricotte’s poem Not Forgotten. This is a time to read and share poems of hurt and healing. I’m organizing online workshops to replace the in-person ones I’ve been running for years, so reach out and contact me if you’d like to be a part of an online poetry workshop.

I should also mention that I have news of an upcoming publication of a poem of mine in Rattle’s June 2020 Postcards issue. The work is a collaboration between the artist Adam Douglas Thomson and myself, featuring a drawing by him and a sonnet in response by me. I’m very honored because I consider Rattle to be one of the best literary journals today. I recommend you consider subscribing, or if you are writing pandemic-inspired poetry yourself, consider submitting to their weekly Poets Respond feature.

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