Thursday, November 5, 2020

Review: Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic

Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic by Alice Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection of poetry comes from poets coping with the pandemic and all its associated issues - loss (of loved ones or work), disconnect, loneliness, isolation; but also discoveries - creativity, quiet, nature. As always it is hard to give an overall rating but as I read and listened to these during Election Week and reflected on how this has been a very hard and long year, I found them to be a balm.


Haunt by April Bernard
"...This is her kind
of catastrophe, rife with irony and fear
and small domestic refinements...."

Say Thank You Say I'm Sorry by Jericho Brown
(about the people who have to work during the pandemic)

The End of Poetry by Ada Limón (read at The New Yorker by the poet)
"...enough of the brutal and the border,
enough of can you see me, can you hear me..."

I Hear the Wild Birds Singing Tangled Roads by Shane McCrae
(of noticing more, hearing more, when people are doing less, out less)

Corona by Dante Micheaux
(similar theme)

Because We Want to Imagine by Laura Mullen
"...didn't we think mostly
About dead bodies and what
We would do with a whole
Lot of money..."

Poem for My Students by Sharon Olds
(like it sounds)

Aftermaths by Tommy Orange
"...Quarantine comes from the Latin meaning forty days. How
long has it been and how long will it be and is it the same kind of forty as from
the ark and the flood, the devil in the desert and the forty-hour workweek?
How we will our lives into something more?"

Weather by Claudia Rankine (listen to the poet read the poem)
"...I say weather but I mean
a November that won’t be held off. This time
nothing, no one forgotten. We are here for the storm
that’s storming because what’s taken matters."

Canal Nocturne by Rex Wilder
"...We are stranded, too near each other to breathe."

I had a copy of the extended edition of the eBook from the publisher, and listened to the original version of the audio, where the poems are read by a host of audiobook narrators, but not necessarily the poets themselves. The Jericho Brown and Claudia Rankine are just a few of the newly added titles, so I would definitely go for the expanded edition which comes out November 17.

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