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Poetry, Pandemic, and Planet Earth: How to Engage with Poetry

Posted in About the Library, Academic Communities, Academic Disciplines, General News, and Library & Partner Events

The pandemic we are living through has dramatically changed how we live, where we work — even why we work, and how we celebrate public events like the National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month is an annual celebration of poetry and how it enriches our lives every day. Academy of American Poets, the organization that launched the National Poetry Month in April 1996, innovates this year’s program for an online and at-home audience.

To make up for CSUF’s (canceled) 2020 poetry program, (New) Visions, (New) Voices, we can hear one of our invited poets, Hai-Dang Phan, read and discuss his richly layered poem, My Father’s “Norton Introduction to Literature,” Third Edition (1981) on the Poetry Foundation website. Poetry Foundation publishes the country’s oldest poetry magazine, Poetry, and offers poems, essays, interviews, and several outstanding features — Poem of the Day, Poetry Off the Shelf, PoetryNow, Poem Talk, Poetry Lecture: all accessible on podcasts.

Through poetry, we reach out and connect with peoples and cultures beyond our own. As a response to coronavirus, Poetry Society of America offers a special feature, Reading in the Dark, where poets write about the poems that they revisit in difficult times. Poets & Writers, Inc., a vibrant supporter of the literary community, curates timely resources for writers and teachers. Words without Borders launches a new series, “Voices from the Pandemic,” that gathers perspectives and responses around the world.

The most profound ecological teachings come from native poets and writers. I recommend that we begin with four books: The Winona LaDuke Reader: a Collection of Essential Writings by Winona LaDuke, Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko, Braiding Sweet Grass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo, the current Poet Laureate of the United States.

Let’s join these voices, persist, thrive, and sing— even in grief and pandemic.

Let’s take action to protect the earth so poetry and humanity can dwell safely at home.