Poetry can provide a path to process trauma and repair emotional wounds. From November 2020 through June 2021, Barnard leveraged the healing power of verse by soliciting original poems from our large literary community. These poets spoke to persevering during the COVID-19 pandemic in a limited digital series called “Pandemic Poets Society.” As the College, the nation, and the globe practiced social distancing, stocked up on masks, and then rolled up sleeves for vaccinations, a total of 16 students, alumnae, and faculty shared their inspirational poems and music to help our community thrive during a uniquely challenging time in history.
This month, to celebrate National Poetry Month, Barnard offers those submissions below:
June 1, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | Three Poems by Charlotte Bingham ’65
Bingham presents pandemic-inspired odes to inanimate objects.
May 17, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Galileo Went Blind’ by Hannah Corrie ’17
Through the famed astronomer’s descent into blindness, Corrie contemplates our increasingly frayed ties to one another and the planet.
May 3, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Spring and Winter’ by Katherine Freedman ’13
Inspired by the changing seasons of the Upper East Side, Freedman observes how the pandemic has run its course over her city.
April 19, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘In All Our Gory Glory’ by Suzanne Selby Grenager ’64
Grenager explores gratitude, psychic awakenings, and reflects on the highs and lows of life across five short poems. Below is a sample:
Words crowd my head,
Like gulls to bread on the beach.
I love my words,
Seeking voice through pen to page.
But there is so much
I know to say, and
So little time.
How, pray tell,
Can I possibly
April 5, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Birds’ by Loretta Cody ’80
Cody considers the literal and figurative journey of flying above turmoil.
March 22, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘this is a creation myth’ by Asha Futterman ’21
Futterman reads her poem about the tales of womanhood and the cycle of time.
March 8, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘How to Talk With Zora Neale Hurston When No One Else Can Hear’ by Quincy Scott Jones
Jones considers the robbing and abuse of Black women’s voices, from the writings of Zora Neale Hurston ’28 to the women that came after her.
February 22, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Plagued’ by Rachel Eichler ’89
Eichler explores the connections between pandemics throughout history.
February 8, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Prayer from the Silo’ by Deborah Ketai ’76
Ketai writes about the realities of intimacy and physical contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
January 25, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Rewinding the Lesbian Sex Scene on a Flight from Denver’ by Alicia Mountain ’10
Mountain writes about her intimate memories of romance and falling in love from the perspective of being on a flight.
January 11, 2021: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘These Days’ by Arlene Weitz Weiner ’61
Weiner writes about the evolving ideas of freedom and femininity across generations in and out of quarantine.
December 10, 2020: Pandemic Poets Society | ‘Poem 3’ by Phanésia Pharel ’21
Pharel writes about the challenges of rising above systemic and individual violence.
December 7, 2020: Pandemic Poet Society | ‘All night typing’ by Phanésia Pharel ’21
Pharel writes about pushing herself through the creative process because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
November 30, 2020: Pandemic Poet Society | ‘sugar daddies’ by Prof. Alexandra Watson
Professor Watson reads her poem about colonialism, resistance, and the sugar cane industry in the Caribbean.
November 16, 2020: Pandemic Poet Society | ‘Tragic Mulatto: One Drop Rule’ by Prof. Alexandra Watson
Professor Watson shares a poem about racial identity.
November 9, 2020: Pandemic Poet Society | ‘Distance’ by Aria Narang ’24
Narang plays a song about the difficulties of distance.
For more resources, visit the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, Barnard’s new centralized hub for all wellness-related initiatives across campus. The Francine LeFrak Center supports the entire College community with a 360-degree perspective of personal well-being: physical, mental, and financial.