Dear Vaccine: Global Voices Speak to the Pandemic
In the midst of all this division around the world, something to bring us together.--PBS NewsHour
People from around the world reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine through poetry
When so much in our lives ground to a halt in the spring of 2020, no one knew how long the COVID-19 pandemic would last. After long months of shutdowns, social distancing, and worry, the first coronavirus vaccines were released in December 2020.
In March 2021, the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University and the University of Arizona Poetry Center launched the website for the Global Vaccine Poem project, inviting anyone to share experiences of the pandemic and vaccination through poetry. Dear Vaccine features selections from over 2,000 poetry submissions to the project, which come from all 50 states and 118 different countries.
Internationally acclaimed author Naomi Shihab Nye, in her introduction, highlights the human dimensions found across the responses. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, provides a foreword that contextualizes the global scope of the problem, as well as the political and public health dimensions.
Making use of poetry's powerful tools to connect us across division, Dear Vaccine reminds us that medical advances alone are not enough to solve the vexing challenges of the pandemic; the arts--and poetry--have a profound and critical role to play.
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About the Author
Naomi Shihab Nye, Palestinian American, is the Young People's Poet Laureate of the United States (Poetry Foundation). For 2019-2020 she was the poetry editor of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Selected for Lifetime Achievement Awards by the National Book Critics Circle and the Texas Institute of Letters in both 2019 and 2020, she has conducted writing workshops all over the world and published more than 35 books of poetry and prose.
David Hassler is director of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. He cofounded Traveling Stanzas, a national community arts project, and is the author or editor of nine books of poetry and nonfiction, including the play May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970.
Tyler Meier is director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center. His poems and prose have appeared in POETRY, Boston Review, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, Washington Square Review, At Length, Tupelo Quarterly, Arizona Republic, AGNI, and elsewhere.