Together in a Sudden Strangeness
America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic
In this urgent outpouring of American voices, our poets speak to us as they shelter in place, addressing our collective fear, grief, and hope from eloquent and diverse individual perspectives.
As the novel coronavirus and its devastating effects began to spread in the United States and around the world, Alice Quinn reached out to poets across the country to see if, and what, they were writing under quarantine. Overwhelmed by the response, the onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America began collecting the compassionate verses that were arriving in her inbox, assembling this various, intimate, and intricate portrait of our suddenly altered reality. Whether grieving for relatives they are separated from, recovering from illness themselves, attending to suddenly complicated household tasks, or considering the bravery of medical workers and the inequities in our society that amplify sorrow and demand our engagement, our poets are just like us, but with the words to describe what can feel unspeakably difficult and strange. From fierce and resilient to wistful, darkly humorous, and emblematically reverent about the earth and the vulnerability of human beings in frightening times, the poems in this collection provide wisdom and companionship, depths of feeling that enliven our spirits, and a poignant summoning to the page of spring's inevitable return.