These are necessary poems in a time of global crisis. Economies are in danger, families struggle with life or death decisions, landlords are waiting to evict tenants, and a voracious disease rages ever onward across nations, ignorant of borders, sovereigns, creeds. These are unstable times, where we are forced to shelter at home, conserving energy and things, as the poets in our last issue sonorously reflected on—but in this Art in Times of Crises, two volumes to be published in the Summer and Fall of 2020, the poets speak to the critical nature of poetry and the arts during events that have destabilized individuals, groups, communities, and whole societies. Even in the height of this misery, and loss, there remains an affirming flame. Poetry somehow helps us to cope–not for bread, not for money, but for the love of the light.
Yet, as submissions rolled in, we realized that publishing yet another volume of pandemic poetry would not be useful to the discourse of what artistic voices are harmonizing during these times: so we publish poems here about childbirth, loss, yes, memory, and death, yes, but songs in a larger chorus of the suffering human condition, and the struggle for survival.
These poets sing in their poems of friction, pressure, and stress, the difficult or seemingly impossible woven into our daily activities, intervening with a commitment to define themselves through the instrument of the poem, and examine the world through its alternatives, to say that poets too can reduce the ecological footprint.
We are anchored in D.C and the Beltway, but in this virtual era, we are again pleased to open the gates of the global village. We continue our interest in reviews and commentary and we are publishing translations as well in this issue. In times of crisis we can help bring people together, to assemble solitudes together, in fellowship and sharing together. These poems are personal, medicinal, and we feel privileged to be working with these poets at this time.
The Beltway continues to be an essential stop in the global poetry conversation, relevant to poets in D.C. as well as beyond the Beltway’s loops, as these upended times push us to connect with each other beyond the limits of our geographies. These are both the positives and negatives of a crisis, pushing us to re-imagine what we might build, together, in the middle of great darkness. We are honored to present to you the poets carrying this torch in Art in Times of Crises, Volume I.
Sara Cahill Marron