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A Poetic Response to COVID-19 by the Victoria Canada Social Movement Poets Collective

It may be one of the rare times that we experience such sudden changes in life due to a virus, COVID-19. The changes we go through are anywhere between leaving our daily habits to creating new habits and thinking patterns, in extreme isolation. We are all experiencing a slower life style that may make us remember old ways of living.

During these days of isolation, poetry appears to be a way of connection; connecting us with ourselves and with others. Poets listen deeply and find their space to express their experiences. As a response, some make the words flow onto paper, or maybe to the heart of someone else.

We, Social Movement Poets Collective, organized a poetry gathering through zoom to do the first of a series of a poetic documentary as a response to COVID-19. The event took place on Saturday, April 18, co-hosted by Serap Brown and Budd Hall, and opened a space for sharing including attendees joining in from Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon and Cumberland House at Saskatchewan Delta– thanks to technology! Jeremy Loveday, well-known poet and Victoria City Councillor, kindly joined in the event and facilitated the writing of a collective poem that will serve as a documentary for these almost surreal days. The participants contributed lines that helped weave in our experiences, uplifted our spirit and gave lots of hope. Here is our first collective poem, as below, and there will be more. Enjoy your reading!

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WHEN WE COME TOGETHER
When we come together hearts meld, hold
I feel free, inspired, happy
Is it the laughter, the tone, the candor?
Nobody knows, it only is the reality

When we come together pain is clear, love is crisp, connection inevitable
When we come together shared lives, even if we’ve never met. Onion skins, rippled moments, pondering what’s next.

When we come together
The crab dinner tastes sweeter
The BBQ salmon seduces me
Ideas bloom and grow like flowers in springtime
we connect to Mino-pimatisiwin (Living A Good Life).

When we come together
There is a strength whispers
A strength that sings
a riverbank chorus
we hear about the earth, the land, the words spoken to create thought big and small

we see beauty, hope, and light
we listen, we laugh, we judge and learn
When we come together
Eating strawberries on the bank of a river /
Sharing the sunshine together / Watching the dragonflies dancing in the air.

When we come together
I want to say something about Trump but am tired of his presence and over presence
Instead, when we come together
Everyone smiles and miracles happen,
Grief is shared and the load is lightened,
when we come together, life is celebrated along with death,
the world changes into a place unrecognizable,
full of potential not yet recognized, any burden is survivable,
a solution to every problem can be found.

When we come together
It is the color red
It is the yellow sun
It is the blue of the flowing river

When we come together
It is a burst of laughter
It is the sound of children playing
It is a whisper of all our yesterdays

When we come together
It is a fuzzy blanket
It is a hot cup of tea
It is putting on my favorite sweater

Onion skins, rippled moments

We connect, we deeply connect, we cheer, sing, feel alive.
When we come together, the world spins, and swirls, and opens doors to joy.
When we come together, we forget all our problems, threats, dangers.
We find a shelter, a shelter of love.

When we come together
We become
Grief and gratitude
Quicker than the virus
We are onion skins and rippled moments
BBQ salmon seduction
We are dragonflies dancing in the air.
Eating strawberries
On a revolutionary tongue
Cutting, always cutting
Closer to the light.

Collective poem by the Social Movement Poets Collective on April 18, 2020. Evening hosted by Serap Brown and Budd Hall. Collective poem facilitated by Jeremy Loveday.

About the poem and the Poetry Gathering:

Social Movement Poets Collective originated through a graduate course, taught by Dr. Budd Hall, at the Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, and have been offering poetry gatherings and performances to the community in Victoria, B.C., since November 2019. This

For more information, contact:
Serap Brown: serap.brown@gmail.com

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