Friday, April 17, 2020

POETRY IN THE TIME OF COVID19

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Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (My poem and the PF link is below)

The topic we TeachingAuthors are exploring in this round is Creativity in the Time of the Coronavirus, a take-off on the title, Love in the Time of Cholera. It's funny--I've been thinking about the title of that book a lot lately, though I've never read it. I wonder if you've thought of that title, too.

And as much as I appreciate and am in awe of the shower of resources, inspirations and suggested activities raining down around us,
can I be totally honest here and say that simply reading the title of each link tires me out?

Eli, after looking at too many Instagram posts

In suggesting this topic, our Blog's Founder and Queen Mother, Carmela, sent us this link to Cynthia Leitich Smith's Twitter thread on March 22nd. (I've condensed it--it was 10 separate tweets on the same day):

Dear Children's-YA Author/Illustrator,
  • It’s okay if you can’t get any writing and/or artwork done today.
  • It’s okay if you need your writing and/or artwork more than ever.
  • It’s okay if you’re upset that your new book isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
  • It’s okay if you’re struggling to do online events.
  • It’s okay if you don’t have a single idea for a video lesson or activity.
  • It’s okay if you’re opting out of online events.
  • It’s okay if you owe people messages.
  • It’s okay if you don’t have the money to purchase or donate.
  • It’s okay if you can’t focus on anything beyond your family/household.
  • You take care. Wash your hands. Do what you need to do. Really, it’s okay.
I love all those okays. This list is so forgiving. So comforting.

Have you looked at your calendar lately after canceling event after event, and secretly breathed a sigh of relief?

I had to stop attending my beloved critique group when I was ill and have yet to reconnect. I couldn't drive across Los Angeles for an hour when I was sick. Once I let that go, I realized something: that drive is not healthy for me even when I'm well

And thus I eliminated several things I'd done regularly for years.

Am I an agoraphobic in an audacious person's clothing?

On March 24th (So long ago, right?  Where have all my days gone?), I was feeling "teacherly" and emailed a friend, who seemed as lost as I feel now:

Dear Janey,

I think you're asking for survival tips. 

Yesterday my survival tip was to label what I feel. I feel lethargic. Just finding that one right word for how I was feeling helped me. And I stopped yelling at myself for not being as productive as I imagine everyone else is. I just let little April be lethargic. 

Today I made a point of meditating before having breakfast. (What? Delay my breakfast????). Because it's easy to not meditate as my day speeds off on its own. This helped.
And I hiked with my dog and my two grand dogs (I call myself their Dogma) on a beautiful, muddy trail. Drenching myself in 
green always moves my meter closer to happy.

Note that this upbeat, helpful email was written when my son and his fiancee were hunkered down with us. I loved having them and their dogs fill our house. (Bonus: he bakes bread every day. That smell is house perfume.)  But they drove off to New Mexico two weeks ago, where he'll starts his residency in emergency medicine soon. (I know--yay, Son, and also, oh, dear...).

So now I'm alone most of the day, which is VERY different. I am not gardening. I am not making ratatouille. I am not decluttering. I am not even cutting my bangs.

But how am I surviving creatively?

I write a poem every day and send it to my friend, author Bruce Balan, who sends me a poem each day, too.

Want an example?

On April 7th, I wrote in my journal:
LA County is asking everyone to refrain from even shopping for food this week. We're bracing for a big wave of COVID-19...unless we all lay low. This is kind of like when you're in the ocean and you've miscalculated and that huge wave, which you'd thought you could swim over, is about to crash on top of you and you dive deep, hoping to avoid being in the washing-machine of the wave.

from Pixabay
And here's my April 7, 2020 poem (I immediately want to tell you that it's just a draft and I know it needs cutting and lots of other things are wrong with it, but I refrain from telling you this):

DADDY TOOK YOUR HAND
by April Halprin Wayland

Remember when Daddy took your hand
after you were thrashed
in a watery washing-machine of a wave
and you both walked slowly, so slowly
into the summery ocean
as that big wave came closer

and you could barely breathe
but he was gentle
he was calm
he held your hand
until you rose above the roar
as it pounded sand

and when the next one—the very next one
came growling at both of you
he showed you how to dive deep,
deeper then you thought you could go
below the wave's grasp
so it rumbled it rumbled
past

and all waves
the rest of that day
were just plain old nothing-to-be-afraid-of waves
you could fly
you could breathe
you were somewhere glorious and far away
all day

poem and drawing of the child in the rain © 2020 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
================================

So...for today, I stand back and watch the world spin. And I forgive myself. It's okay.

Thank you, Molly, at Nix The Comfort Zone for hosting Poetry Friday!


Posted with gratitude by April Halprin Wayland with help from Eli and our teeny tiny newborn pond turtle:





42 comments:

Irene Latham said...

April, THIS POEM. I adore it with all its wavy-ness... a beauty, this. And I hear you on the letting things go. I am doing the same. And yes, some days I cannot look at ye ol internet. TOO MUCH. But I am very grateful to have found this today. xo

Janice Scully said...

A watery washing machine does seem like life now. I like the metaphor in your poem. You must be proud of your son. My sister lives in Burbank, so I think of LA a lot and send my best hopes and wishes there.

Carmela Martino said...

Dear April, I LOVE this post. The words of your poem are like balm on my soul. And I love the video of the tiny turtle, with the calming gurgle of water in the background. Hugs to you!

Kay said...

April, your post is an oasis of calm. I have been learning to let go and to enjoy the pace of life at this slower time. As long as I don't spend too much time online, I'm not sure I want to go back to the hustle and bustle of life before. I am learning to breathe and dive under the waves

Linda B said...

It's just plain nice to 'hear' you talking away, into this part & that, helping us with a list of what we can forget, bringing a sweet picture of a little girl in the rain, but happy, & then your poem showing that sometimes we have learned to 'deep dive' under the big wave & it isn't scary at all. I'm sorry you miss your son & those dogs, wish him best of wishes going forward, & to you, best wishes on those muddy hikes that are your own 'deep dives'!

Molly Hogan said...

What a wonderful, reflective post! I appreciate your candor as you reflect on this time and your list of "okays" is soothing. I keep telling myself that this is a time to learn about myself.This phrase--"Drenching myself in green always moves my meter closer to happy."-- and your poem and the video of that baby turtle are highlights in my day. (Can I admit that I was a bit worried about the size of the fish in relation to the turtle? I'm a little worried...)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Irene ~ it's a mixed bag, for sure. there's so many funny videos that I immediately want to share with everyone, but I don't want to clutter their inboxes as mine is cluttered. And so we navigate this new road...

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you very much, Janice. New Mexico, where my son will be in residency for the next three years, has not felt the wave of the virus yet. So they're actually watching the rest of us and becoming quite prepared.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Hugs right back at you, Carmela. You know how much I appreciate you 🌞

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes. and I learn right back from you. (I had already forgotten what I had written!) So now I'm remembering to take a breath. Thank you

April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh, Linda! I wish I could hug you!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Molly... I want to tell you more about the turtle, but that would be offline. It's involved! I'm so glad I discovered your blog

Linda Mitchell said...

April, this post was really comforting and funny and wonderful to read. Labeling the feeling. That, I can do! Today was a lethargic day for me. I fought the sleepies by walking this afternoon. Thanks for the pep talk, thanks for the poem with the waves, thanks for the understanding.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda, thank you for your kind response. In the 10 years I've been on this blog, I felt that yesterday I revealed more of myself than I ever have. It was like taking off my clothes and showing you my scars. So your comments are comforting; they give me courage to be as honest as I can be in my posts going forward..

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

This is the post I needed to read most today, April. That list of "okays" was enough to set my mind at ease, then your poem came along like the hug that makes everything better.

Margaret Simon said...

I’m in love with this poem. That gentle hand heading into the wave and creating something wonderful and fun. Thanks for sharing it today. I’m walking with you. We are all in this together.

April Halprin Wayland said...

...and now your comment, Michelle, comes full cicle to remind me that it IS okay...

April Halprin Wayland said...

We are, Margaret. Breathe.

Sally Murphy said...

Breathe. Just breathe. This is advice I've been giving myself, and keep seeing everywhere. If that's all we do in a day, then that's okay. Thank you for such a wise post.

Bridget Magee said...

It's okay...yes! These are powerful words today more than ever. And your poem - thank you. :)

Carol Coven Grannick said...

"It's okay"—for sure. And always, not only in a pandemic. Feelings are for noticing and gathering information, not judging. And I love the poem!

Liz Steinglass said...

April, this poem, this post is perfect just as it is. I am so with you. Some days looking at my email inbox or even the Poetry Friday links makes me feel completely exhausted. I am doing what I can. What else is there to do? I am grateful to have my family here. Sending every iota of positive energy to you, your son and his fiancee.

Linda said...

Your words express what so many of us are feeling. I have been pushing myself to do way too much. Your post reminds me that I needs to take some time just to BE. Thanks, April!

laurasalas said...

I love this post, April--all of it. From Cyn's list poem of lovely permissions to your wave poem to your secret relief. So much of this resonated with me. xox

Carol Varsalona said...

April, you gave us insight into your thoughts that really strike me as advice for all of us. We notice the watery washing-machine of a wave, step back, and then are guided through with support. It is with multiple attempts that we come out knowing that faith and hope lead us on. I think your poem is wonderful and that photo pairs beautifully. Thank you.

Joyce Ray said...

April, thank you for your honesty. I have been hard on myself for not being as productive as I think I should be with all this "extra" time. Your poem is beautiful, and as a person of faith, I read 'Daddy' (though Mommy works for me, too!)in an expansive way. I loved the video of that wee turtle, but I wonder if he/she is safe with all those beautiful carp!

Jone said...

I love thinking about shadows and the coast and the sand and the water. Thank you for this April.

April Halprin Wayland said...

I needed to write it as much as you needed to read it, Sally.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you for reading this, Bridget πŸ’•

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes... not judging. It's hard to fight the judgments both outside and inside, right, Carol?

April Halprin Wayland said...

I'm so glad to hear that you have your family with you, Liz. I wish we could take a walk and really talk again.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes,Linda. I took an online class the other day, and had to take a break and meditate. Just to reclaim myself.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you Laura. I really appreciate your comments. And I'm so grateful for Poetry Fridays.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carol ~ I just want to hug you!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Joyce, there's a long story that goes with that teeny tiny turtle...🐒! Thank you for stopping by and for your comments.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Jone! I hope you and your family doing okay through this. Sending you love. πŸ’•

jan godown annino said...

hello dear sane & health-keeping april - i love that you shared two calming water images & this safe- swimming water poem so lyrical & uplifting.
the newborn turtle is worth watching again & again. the tips you share from cynLS are worth reading every morning & probably during the day. if you find this a year from now that is ok because i'm also sending it via creative mind waves to you, where you are the best doctor for your creativity, your vitality, your psyche. so glad you got past your illness.
so thankful for your son & his work for good health. we have similar heartugs about grown children within our family of close friends, including a courageous for 10 years inner city firefighter who is now becoming an innercity peace officer (police), it is hard hard work being good-heart first responders any time, but especially so now.
shalom & sending more turtle birth charms to you :)
ps at my april 17, 2020 Bookseedstudioblog or visit at fb., i too have a spring newborn, this on the porch, with monarch wings :) you do not need to look, just imagine & it will appear in your mind screen - guaranteed
xo
jan

April Halprin Wayland said...

Jan! I love love love the sleepy, friendly, meditative mood of your comments. It felt like you were in bed, in your pajamas and I was in bed in my pajamas, reading your words. (Or perhaps capturing them out of the air)

jan godown annino said...

hot tea

hot cocoa

& namaste

your air-writer pal,
jan

:)

ps above soothebringers, subject to fair-traide screening by both parties

jan godown annino said...

& even more

smiles

under

the

pillo

pile :(

jan godown annino said...

:)

that was to have been a

joyful

full on

:) :) :)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Jan ~ thank you πŸŒžπŸ¦‹πŸŒž