Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day Forty-One

Today is the last day of April, which is also the last day of National Poetry Month. The celebratory month got its start in April 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. 

Earlier today, I read that poet Joy Harjo has been appointed for her second term as Poet Laureate of the United States. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she is the country’s first Native American Poet Laureate, a member of Mvskoke Nation. In addition to her poetry, Joy is also known for her prowess on the saxophone. (Note to self: Look for some YouTube videos of Joy on the sax.)

joy harjo bookAs you may know from reading these daily thoughts, I’ve been reading a fair bit of poetry over the past few weeks. I’m not sure why, but I find myself connecting more with poetry than I ever have before. It just so happens one of the books I’ve recently picked up (from my local bookseller The Homer Bookstore in Homer, Alaska) and started reading earlier this week is Joy’s collection of poems titled Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. I’ve already flagged numerous poems that speak to me in some way.

Earlier this month, in light of COVID-19 and subsequent shelter-at-home emergency mandates, The Washington Post and Library of Congress asked four U.S. poets laureate to share their thoughts on the appropriate theme of home. They started with Joy.

She chose to read a poem originally published in a 1994 in a collection titled The Woman Who Fell from the Sky. The poem’s prescient title is Perhaps the World Ends Here and its topic targets the center of homes across the world, the kitchen table.

Here are the first three stanzas:

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

But you should really listen to Joy read the whole thing here:

Hawaii’s statewide COVID-19 cases grew to 618 today. We remain at 21 on Kauai.

Be well.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana Wilke says:

    I really enjoyed the poem you shared by Joy Harjo. Reading your posts have become one of my daily rituals. Thanks Kim, Dana

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    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      I’m really enjoying Joy Harjo’s poetry, especially this one! Thanks for reading. I think of you when I peer down *your* side of Aliomanu Road on our walks;-)

      Like

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