BRATTLEBORO — Pour a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or just sit back and reflect on experiences from the last two years as local contributors to the anthology A 21st Century Plague: Poetry from a Pandemic read from their work at an online event sponsored by Brooks Memorial Library on Wednesday, Sept. 8. at 7 p.m.
The book, edited by Elayne Clift of Saxtons River, was released earlier this year.
Throughout history and across all cultures, stories have helped people cope during challenging times. This anthology, just published by University Professors Press, collects 70 poems by 52 diverse poets who “capture the global experience of the pandemic as well as the individual emotions and struggles that are unique and at the same time universal,” a news release for the event describes.
“Reading this anthology, you might find yourself saying, 'Yes, yes, I understand - I've felt that way too. I am not alone,'” writes nurse/poet Cortney Davis. “Open this anthology and browse these poems. There is balm here.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic will be dissected by epidemiologists, sociologists, politicians, and historians. Now it is time for the poets,”adds physician and writer Danielle Ofri. “These writings will make you stop and think, which is perhaps the very prescription we need to help move us forward.”
Contributors to the anthology, many of whom are award-winning writers, are wide-ranging, from well-known writer Marge Piercy, to an Irish Franciscan Brother Richard Hendricks, to a prison inmate, a nurse, artists, and educators.
“It falls to poets and writers to capture the life, and death, experiences of a wide range of humanity, reflecting in words well-chosen, what others feel but cannot express,” says Clift. “This anthology offers a sanctuary of carefully crafted language that provides comfort and solidarity with others.
“The works bear witness and give universal meaning to shared experience. In that way, these stories in verse create word monuments that quiet and comfort us. They become quietly healing while recording for future generations what it was like during the 21st-century pandemic.”