"As you know, many people are struggling." So goes the refrain of a Twitter-popular poem made from quarantine emails.
You've seen the emails. In the past months, every company that has your email has made sure you know how they're handling COVID-19. Commercials and ads couch their marketing-speech with references to our new normal. Emails to employers, customers, professors, and family acknowledge it. And now one English teacher in West Virginia has made art with it.
Jessica Salfia shared this poem on Twitter:
Here's the tweet embedded.
This poem is called “First lines of emails I’ve received while quarantining.” pic.twitter.com/4keCqPaO63— Jessica Salfia (@jessica_salfia) April 11, 2020
In less than 24 hours following its April 11 posting, the poem had been shared by 23,000 Twitter users and accrued 83,000 likes. Three days later, those numbers doubled as news outlets covered the story.
It's clear the poem captured something many had been feeling, and it even inspired other poets.
A student nurse assembled one from her college emails:
Mrs Salfia- love this! Here is what we are seeing as students in college. pic.twitter.com/fxO5vPRm0u— Jill Exotic (@jillian_cheek) April 11, 2020
A professor from Toledo responded:
This poem is called "Last lines of emails I’ve received while quarantining," inspired by and in response to the poem written by @jessica_salfia. Thank you for your beautiful work, it touched my heart. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/qqseXLD38w— Kasumi Yamazaki (@KasumiYamazaki) April 11, 2020
As a medium for expression, poetry seems custom-fit for quarantine conditions. We've all got a lot to think about and process, and often a surplus of time to do it with.
"Poetry is a reminder of the beauty of life, especially at times of grief and upheaval," writes Ellen Howley, a PhD student at Dublin City University.
Poetry flourishes. Here are some more examples you can check out:
- April is National Poetry Month! There are open mics, readings, classes, workshops, festivals, archives, even collaborative poems—all held online. Check it out.
- A nine-year-old girl in London writes a thank-you poem for health service workers.
- The arts organization Hickory Playground calls for submissions of poetry and other art to their Quarantine Diaries.
- Oregon's poet laureate Kim Stafford creates a project, "Poems for the Pandemic".
Whether it's in verse or not, it's affirming to know that "many people are struggling" as well as "we will get through this."
What are your thoughts on the poem? Does poetry connect with you?
Join the discussion with a comment!