Front door with colorful paper hearts taped to the side-light windows.

UW-Green Bay faculty members create a Pandemic Poetry Exchange

UW-Green Bay Professors Alise Coen (Political Science, Public & Environmental Affairs) and Jessica Van Slooten (English, Women’s & Gender Studies) were featured in a local news story for their creation of an interdisciplinary Pandemic Poetry Exchange group. The pair talked to reporter Diana Bolander for the Herald Times Reporter.

Alise Coen
Alise Coen

The group has grown to more than 200 members on Facebook and offers a supportive creative space to help cope with physical distancing.

The Facebook group is called ‘VanCoen Pandemic Poetry‘ (a combination of their last names) and has more than 225 members. The group’s guiding principle is to be ‘a supportive space for members to read, create and share original poems (broadly defined) to help cope with social distancing and quarantine-like conditions during the COVID-19 situation.

Jessica Van Slooten
Jessica Van Slooten

Both Coen and Van Slooten said they find that the group helps them feel more connected to the world while in isolation.

Coen noted: “I am comforted and inspired by our group as a supportive space for sharing art through words. The poems shared are sometimes humorous, sometimes somber and almost always descriptive of people’s different experiences and perspectives.”

 

 

A poem and photo by Van Slooten:

Front door with colorful paper hearts taped to the side-light windows.Fold the paper vertically
and curve the scissors just
so: begin with a point,
flare into generous cures,
and finish in a deep cleft.
Unfold your heart.
Remember they come in all
shapes, sizes, colors.
Make a rainbow of hearts:
love is love is love.
Put two hearts together
to form wings, and fly.
Imagine every paper heart
beating steady, strong,
a talisman to heal broken
hearts, heart failure.
Tape the hearts on windows
and doors: spread the love

Not Aleppo by Coen

Tending to street cats
In the middle of war
The man in Aleppo
Knows far more
About trying to find peace.
Me with my books
With my smart phone in bed
Using words to escape
The traps in my head
Safely sprawled under fleece.

Still, I fell nervous
In my privileged bombless nights
Mulling over viral posts
Of healthcare worker plights
And epicenter quakes.
By the light of my screen
That comforting glow
The fear is well disguised
As a thing I need to know
So I read all the takes.