Who will write the history we are living in?
Walt Whitman, nursing the sick, wounded, and dying in the Civil War hospitals of Washington, D.C., famously wrote that “the real war will never get in the books.”
Since this pandemic is being called a “war” this will also be true of this time. Actually, it is true of all history. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that there are many sides to history, and only some sides get told in history books.
Who will write the history of this time we are living through? Will it speak your truth? Will it tell your story? Might your story help speak another’s experience too?
Let’s get creative about Covid
Last night some Spirit Garage folks participated in an online creative night. We read poems for the pandemic and then spent time writing together and sharing those writings. There were three different sections with poems to share and writing prompts after: “What is different?” “Living in it” and “Finding Hope.” Below, find some of the creativity that came out of this evening together.
Spirit Garage will host one creativity night a month; watch for more information on the calendar page.
What is different?
What is different you ask?
Much, everything maybe.
depending on your day to day reality.
So strange how some of us all connect over a meme
about day drinking or homeschooling, or how hard it is to work from home
with “all that extra time”
but other groups don’t have that time
they still go to work every day
Or they don’t have that luxury.
We still have our bubbles.
We still have disparities.
Hopefully what is different, that we can mostly agree on, not all,
because that’s just never going to happen
is that we focus more on the present.
Here, that is my family,
my girls, and ensuring they aren’t “bored” or melting their brains with screens.
Checking in on our mental health and most of all
prioritizing showing LOVE.
That’s what’s changed.
At least, maybe for me.
-Erin Walton Kerns
“What” is different.
Not “who” – we are all still people.
Though some are not alive.
Not “when” – time progresses.
Perhaps it feels more slow,
perhaps it feels more tenuous.
Not “where” – we aren’t really allowed to go anywhere.
Vacations must be nearby.
Grocery runs feel like a 6-foot catacomb.
Movie theaters are closed.
Not “why” – it’s clear why.
We might die,
or cause a death, or more.
And causing death is a god thing,
But “what” is different – being a human is different.
I touch more carefully.
I talk more purposefully.
I’m part of a different whole.
The whole has a story
that it didn’t before.
Living in it
*Rules for a Pandemic
Let nothing go unsaid but use fewer words.
Sow beauty and kindness on the groaning ground;
Wield the hammer of righteousness sparingly or you are “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Break things when necessary (they are already broken) and find patterns in the pieces
Don’t wait until there are ashes on the ground-kiss the girl.
Pandemic, Pt. 2
The first rule is that rules are suspended.
The curves and angles of the script(ure) have washed away in the rain.
Sit, holding the chalk, in the dusty aftermath of the disappearance.
The musings of the muse lie on the ground like beard clippings or the last of the bread flour;
Start again to form a lofting outline of grace.
On all sides
It feels like it’s a small thing
Living a simple life
Little does it know
Little does it imagine
That its fight for life against foes
As large/little as it is
Is really stepping to the head
Of the food chain and challenging
The king of the jungle
And the king fights back
With every puny syringe and scalpel
From its vast arsenal
Of giant/puny offenses
Against a god-created
It is still simply fighting
For its life
One conquest at a time.
And then the conquest will be complete
And then we will realize how well we fight together
And then we will find other battles to fight
And then we will realize that fighting is innate in us
And then the fighting that we did will seem immature
And then the fighting will become proactive
And then we will truly be able to fight
And then the conquest will be complete
Heidi has a New Job
Heidi has a new job, for which she is well paid.
She makes art or music or dance or fancy meals,
or really, whatever gives her the feels.
Heidi has a new job because everyone is fed.
That’s right breakfast- lunch- dinner
plus snacks, everyone has food.
The safety net is old world news
because everyone is safe.
Heidi has a new job
because everyone is fed.
Looking for more poetry?
For inspiration, we used several poems from the following sources, all of which are a wealth of great poetry for a pandemic:
Writing/art prompts for “What is different?”
Are you inspired to start writing? Here are some writing prompts to get you started:
- What has changed in your day-to-day life since COVID-19 became “a thing”? Which changes have caused the greatest imposition(s)? Which changes have led to the most distress? Which changes, if any, have been pleasantly surprising? Which changes have led to some relief of distress?
- List the order of things that have happened/how you learned about the virus as you remember them.
- Write about what you miss
- Write about the things we used to do that probably won’t happen anymore (like interior cruise state rooms and blowing out birthday candles, sharing sodas and cigarettes)
“Living in it” questions/writing prompts to consider
- Name the things we cannot do.
- Name the things we can do now that we couldn’t do before.
- Some things you’ve learned.
- Some things (or people) you’re worried about.
- Some things you’re hopeful for.
- Some things “authority figures” get wrong
- Misinformation you hear
- what you’re spending money on/what you’re saving money on.
- New words and phrases we hear all the time (like “out of an abundance of caution”)
- How do you mark the time?
- Think about/name how people in different life situations have been changed/are living through this time.
- Write a poem that imagines how infection spreads.
- Write about what a day looks like
- Write a poem that personifies the virus: what is it feeling? what is it thinking? what future plans does it have? where did it come from?
- Zentangle with the shape of the virus.
Writing Prompts for “Finding Hope”
- Let’s pretend the vaccine comes in a shot, and we all stay just like this until we can get the shot. What’s the first thing you’ll do once you have the shot?
- Begin a poem: “on the other side of this pandemic…”
- What brings you joy right now?
- What do you hope will stay with you (or us) once this is behind us?
- Write a speculative future poem about what we learn during this time
- Write what you’re learning from nature (that’s positive)
Banner image is from Spidie (Donna) Meyer.