A Year of Poetry in Lockdown
Many people living in the United States have now approached one year of life in lockdown. The pandemic has altered the poetic landscape in a variety of ways, but perhaps what is most notable is what has been magnified and brought to the forefront: resilience and community. Artists have expanded their creativity to find innovative ways to reach people. With the loss of in-person gatherings and events, the poetry community grew in its ability to create a virtual space where people from all over the world can connect and create. Here are just a few beautiful developments that have come from the world of poetry over the last year.
Poets and creatives alike stepped up in a big way this past year as they found new ways to fulfill the needs of fellow writers. According to the New York Times, writing groups have been thriving over the course of the pandemic, which has “lowered the barriers to entry”—and poetry workshops are no exception. Virtual poetry workshops have become quite prevalent, offering writers tips to hone their poetry skills as well as fun prompts and interactive learning experiences. One of my favorite workshops available during this time has been “Write with Rupi,” hosted by Rupi Kaur. Through IGTV and Instagram Live, Kaur takes viewers through different writing exercises that encourage the creative process. She also provides a supportive community where writers can share their work with one another while developing a more consistent writing practice. The best part? It’s free!
Virtual Book Clubs and Readings
Virtual book clubs have become another great way for poetry fans to come together. Whether it’s through an Instagram group, a Zoom chat, or Google Hangouts, the internet is providing readers a way to continue to form clubs, discuss the poems they love, and encourage socialization and bonding. A lot of authors are rolling out book clubs and virtual events as part of their book launches to help foster community despite not being able to meet in person. Bookstores are also hopping on the virtual bandwagon. Shops all over the country, like The Strand, Powell’s, and Tattered Cover have been hosting virtual events through platforms like Crowdcast and Zoom to support authors and engage the literary community.
Pandemic-Inspired Poetry Collections
The last year has been full of grief, loss, and uncertainty. It has also shown us glimmers of hope as we’ve seen the ways people have adapted and found ways to continue to connect and support one another. This set the stage for some beautifully introspective and engaging collections of pandemic-inspired poetry. One such collection is “Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic.” Alice Quinn, a former New Yorker poetry editor, features 107 different poets in this anthology who all have unique and diverse perspectives in regard to the pandemic. It is a beautiful collection that opens our eyes to the experiences of others and welcomes us into the different voices crying out through poetry.
Poetry as a form of Processing
Another heart-warming development during the pandemic has been poetry’s role in helping people process the weight of it all. This article from Georgetown University describes the different ways that students and faculty have turned to poetry during the pandemic. And they are not alone. USA Today is citing a poetic “renaissance” as people’s interest in poetry continues to soar; according to the article, traffic to poets.org is up 25% from this time last year. More and more people are turning to poetry and seeing its power and purpose play out in our world. Poetry is giving people an opportunity to reflect on the unrest in their hearts and in their environments. It provides people with comfort and connection as well as an outlet for the emotions and experiences they are having.
Despite the heartbreaking realities of a global pandemic, poetry has found a way to persist and to evolve. Poetry continues to be an accessible and therapeutic way for people to connect and work through the collective pain and uncertainty that the year has brought for so many.