It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there. — William Carlos Williams
It is not easy to keep writing poetry during this unprecedented time, but it is necessary. The poems coming in to North American Time from the USA and Canada are neither comfortable nor glorious. These poems are often nostalgic as writers look back, restless when reflecting chaos, and some simply drop into the present moment, most often into their own gardens and their own relationships- as you might expect during isolating months.
Poetry is changing, like the world itself. As the world copes with waves of pandemic rising and falling, as governments win and lose the battle of governance over an invisible foe, and a battle for the truth (some for and some against truth in news) all writers are writing their way into understanding the present moment.
If poetry is our world’s Cassandra, if poets and writers often protest the wrongs, point to the right way forward, where do we find such poems now? Here.
In every literary zine and zoom reading, every online collection of poets and pandemic poetry that manages to continue during the chaos, we find poets who keep writing to make sense of their own confusion, and by so doing help us find resonance with our own feelings.
I, like many poets here, turn back toward the ordinary our lives as we process a fast changing world. All will be well, meanwhile we live in the hell of not knowing what is coming next.
This is nerve-wracking, but possibly a good thing. Having written poetry under the restrictions of white male privileged owners and publishers, we need to unfold our wings, open our ears to differently nuanced voices, see from another’s view.
We will be the better for waking up while staying tethered to the art of poetry where the real news is found as we write our way into the spaces made by the widening gyre. There is room for more voices than ever. The old centre cannot hold. We write to create a new more equitable core of a completely different society. Now is the time.
For this issue, we have had to cut our pages in half to make The Blue Nib more affordable for us and you. (Please do support us by subscription, if you are able.) Hence, there is less room to showcase poets in #43. The irony is not lost on us. However, remember that The Blue Nib’s digital platform continues to carry many voices that cannot be contained here, and has several poetry sections from the whole of the planet. www.thebluenib.com
At North American Time, I have five poets for you; three of these writers are well established, two are emerging poets. Among the four are two emigrants to the USA, one very recently. Herein find one Japanese-American, Chinese-American, a recent emigrant from Romania, and two poets with a few generations of living as white Americans. I will let you discover these poets for yourselves as you keep in mind the vast diversity in the cultural heritage in these five poets. However, their themes- the challenge of a world pandemic, the difficulty of finding unity and relationship in a time of separation, and the great task of making peace in chaos- are yours, since human concerns are not restricted by any country’s borders.