Friday, March 11, 2022

Special Feature: Poetic Impulse in the time of Covid19

Today/March 11, marks two years since the Work Health Organization declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic, which has been upending life across the globe. We’ve had mask mandates, Covid-19 screening, quarantine, lockdowns, schools closed, online "learning," anti-covid19 ("just a flu"  "fake news," "conspiracy") protests, vaccines, and heated arguments about how to move forward and "live with" this virus. 

I started a journal, Coronavirus Poetry Diary,  on the day of the WHO's "pandemic"  announcement. Since then, I have been writing and publishing more than 350 poems in various forms, some of which won awards in the contests,  to "investigate"/reflect on my thoughts about and feelings towards what this pandemic has done to me, the people I care about, the society where I live, and most importantly, to the lifeworld. 

The following are my deeply held beliefs that

One writes not because one knows the answer but because one wants to explore the question. 

-- J.M. Coetzee 

Poetry acts as a witness in, to, and most importantly, through troubled times.

Chen-ou Liu, An Interview with Dimitar Anakiev, editor of Bulgarian-English Tanka Handbook 

Today, my drear readers/friends, I would like to invite you to embark on an exploratory journey with me to ask these following challenging questions, which are not just perceived from an individual vantage alone and should be contextualized from within a much larger picture:

Question 1The Atlantic, March 8How did this many deaths become normal? The U.S. is nearing 1 million recorded COVID-19 deaths without the social reckoning that such a tragedy should provoke. Why?

Three Hundred and Nineteenth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written on the day that marks two years since the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. 

a great loss
when only one man dies
of covid
but millions is just a number ...
this twist to my doctor's mouth

44th Entry

a tired nurse
opens the bedside window
my friend's voice
flows in with the night breeze
as his mother's eyes close 

Chen-ou Liu

in the garden
the dwindling petals
of the daffodil
the blessing of a death
from natural causes 

Dance into the World, 2020                                               

Marianne Paul

20th Entry

refrigerated trucks
outside a hospital
an old man
under the shadowy gaze
of the Empire State Building

209th Entry

funeral pyre smoke and dust 
all week long
the workers enveloped
in their own unrest

Chen-ou Liu

these nameless
covid-19 stats ...
shivering drizzle 

Boston Haiku Society Newsletter, March 2020

Richard St. Clair

Question 2CBC News, March 9: Mask mandates are being lifted in Canada: Politicization of messaging could further divide Canadians over masking in the future.

Three Hundred and Twentieth Entry

does it matter
to mask or not to mask ?
in dim light
Ukrainians crammed
into a bomb shelter

312th Entry

time to learn
to live with Covid-19
on the news ticker ...
a nurse turns off the TV
and starts her midnight rounds

Chen-ou Liu

Question 3: Daily Beast, March 18, 2020 (seven days after the WHO's pandemic announcement): Trump Addresses "Kung-Flu" Remark, Says Asian-Americans Agree "100 Percent" With Him Using "Chinese Virus," Really?

 Isaac Yeboah Addo's essay, Double pandemic: racial discrimination amid coronavirus disease 2019 and The New York Times, May 20 2021: Biden Signs Bill Addressing Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans: The measure is the first legislative action that Congress has taken to bolster law enforcement’s response to attacks on people of Asian descent during the pandemic. 

Asians all look the same ...

yet, with the sharpness of an eagle's eyes, this white man still manages to hone in on the most vulnerable and defenceless.

an uptick
in new variant cases
Asian-looking old man 
knocked to the muddy ground

In the dark tunnel of my daymare with no light at its end, I dash to and fro, but settle nowhere. I can feel a bull's eye on my back.

The Blo͞o Outlier Journal, 2, Summer, 2021 

                                                       ... to be continued 

FYI: Today's post title alludes to Nobel prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez's 1985 novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, which most prominent theme suggest that lovesickness is a literal illness, a plague comparable to cholera.

As historian Yuval Harari argues in In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,  it is "the ability to create an imagined reality out of words’ (p.36) that really sets humans apart from other animals."

This is the main reason today's post is titledPoetic Impulse in the time of Covid19.

167th Entry

this world of masked faces
into five lines ...
I throw a stone of words
across the river of no return

Chen-ou Liu

Added: Three Hundred and Twenty-First  Entry
written in response to Hong Kong's Covid-19 crisis

quarantine room
shifting shadows of me

FYI: Reuters, March 13: Hong Kong reports 32,430 COVID cases, 264 deaths on March 13 (note: 213 reported deaths in 2020 and 2021)

Some 300,000 people were isolating at home,...Hong Kong has recorded nearly 700,000 COVID-19 infections and about 3,500 deaths since early 2020 - most of them in the past two weeks. Most of the fatalities are among unvaccainated senior citizens.

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