"'The Cruellest Month': Writing the Pandemic During National Poetry Month and Beyond" (NeMLA session)
Event: NeMLA session
When, in 1996, the Academy of American Poets chose April for its annual celebration of poetry as the “month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation” (National Poetry Month FAQ), it also chose what T. S. Eliot famously designated “the cruellest month.” Eliot penned this line in The Waste Land in the wake of WWI and the 1891 Influenza outbreak. In 2020, National Poetry Month has coincided with the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This panel aims to highlight and explore poetic responses to the pandemic as launched under the auspices of National Poetry Month as well as through individuals, collectives, and other forums such as public radio and online blogs that have summoned poets and poetry to address and articulate this latest public health crisis. What forms does pandemical poetry take? How do poets and poems describe and remedy disease on local and global scales? What does poetry have to do with our national health? Creative and critical presentations on poetry and lyrics inspired by the Coronavirus pandemic as well as historic precedents and parallels are all welcome.