Sheltering with Poems: Community & Connection During COVID

Sheltering with Poems: Community & Connection During COVID

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Editors: Bruce Dethlefsen, Kathleen Serley, and Angela Voras-Hills

Publisher: Bent Paddle Press (2021)

Contributors: Marilyn Annucci, Linda Aschbrenner, Sharon Auberle, Nancy Austin, Mary Jo Balistrerri, Francha Barnard, B.J. Best, Kimberly Blaeser, Robin Chapman, Jan Chronister, David Clowers, Cathryn Cofell, Cindy Crebbin, T.A. Cullen, Jody Murrad Curey, Ron Czerwien, Daphne Daugherty, Calisa Davis, Bruce Dethlefsen, CX Dilhunt, Thomas J. Erickson, Fabu, Susan Firer, Kathryn Gahl, Annette Langlois Grunseth, Dasha Kelly Hamilton, Heather Hanlon, Callen Harty, Ronnie Hess, Anne Neyse, Lee Hodge, Maryann Hurtt, Janet Jennerjohn, Jeffrey Johannes, Lucy Rose Johns, Lora Keller, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Mark Kraushaar, C. Kubasta, Estella Lauter, Ae Hee Lee, Emilie Lindemann, Karen Loeb, Scott Lowery, Eileen Mattmann, Jill madden Melchoir, Richard Merelman, CJ Muchhala, Meg Muthupandiyan, Elizabeth Harmatys Park, Ann M. Penton, Amy Phimister, Brian Dean Powers, Diana Randolph, Julia Rice, Jeannie E. Roberts, Margaret Rozga, Sara Sarna, Kathleen Serley, Shoshauna Shy, Katrin Talbot, Bruce Taylor, Jeanie Tomasko, Tom and Steve Tomasko, Elisabeth Tornes, Alison Townsend, Angie Trudell Vasquez, Lisa Vihos, Angela Voras-Hills, Paul Walter, Tori Grant Welhouse, Tad Phippen Wente, Beth Ann Workmaster, and Ann Zindler

The 122-page book features a foreword by former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland and both cover and interior artwork by Wendy Vardaman. Garland says poetry can relate the “ongoing news of what happens in the hearts and minds of ordinary people facing extraordinary peril. News from the front lines of feeling.”

The poets in this anthology are nurses and lawyers, teachers and scientists, artists, students, booksellers and business owners—in other words, all of us.

The poems, mostly written in the first months of the pandemic, relate the writers’ efforts to come to grip with those new terms and situations that we all had to deal with: sheltering in place, social distancing, isolation. But it’s not just a bleak world depicted in poems, there is also hope, love and humor.

The poetry editors for the anthology are Bruce Dethlefsen, Kathleen Serley and Angela Voras-Hills. The book is co-published by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and Bent Paddle Press. 

There is an ode to soap, a poem that wonders if toilet paper will save us. There are poems that ponder our relationship to hair length and the trajectory of spit. Many poems note the days: “Day Fourteen,” “America in the Third Week,” or other numbers: “One Hundred Thousand and Climbing.”

“If there is shelter in poetry, or art itself, it’s a movable shelter,” Garland writes, “an ancient antigen, shelter that preserves, but also reinvigorates; comforts, but also reawakens our latent capacity for healing.”