I'm so excited to share that the paper-cut book made by Laurie Moorhead featuring my poem "Long-Distance Love" has been purchased by the Cynthia Sears Artist's Book Collection which is housed at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
The slideshow above has a few photos of Laurie's book. The full poem can be found at the end of this post.
Keep reading if you'd like to hear about how the poem and collaboration came to be.
In March of 2020, I was reeling as I tried to make sense of the sudden crisis that we found ourselves in.
When there's a threat and we're not able to take action, that's often what leads to trauma getting stored in unresolved ways. So there was something about having to just stay home that was really activating. There was a sense of "I'm trapped and powerless."
But then I thought about how staying home was not just the only thing I could do, but it was actually a concrete way I could help at that moment. It felt important to me connect to that idea intentionally--to tell myself: this isn't trapped, powerless inaction; this is action.
So I wrote this poem and put it out on social media and it it really seemed to resonate with people more than usual. It was getting shared really widely. At a time where we were basically being asked to stay away from each other, being able to connect to people through this poem and through writing in general was really a lifeline for me. And I think people reading the poem felt connected to these words and to this shared mission.
The poem was an invitation of sorts to imagine that while we weren't physically together, we were connected through this web of caring for each other. It spoke to the idea of everybody at home as an act of love.
When I was contacted by Laurie (someone I didn't know by the way) and she asked if she could make this into a paper cut book, I was moved by the idea of something beautiful being created from my words, and also the idea of a remote digital collaboration. It was good medicine at a time when things felt so bleak and isolating.
Laurie began putting her book out there in the world in different ways. It had the opportunity to be in several exhibitions, thereby reaching a wider audience. Being purchased by the Cynthia Spears Artist's Book collection is such an honor and an amazing turn of events! I will always be grateful to Laurie for reaching out to me 18 months ago.
It's bittersweet to revisit the poem now and compare where we thought we would be by now with where we are. While some of the specifics have changed, we are still faced with an ongoing question about how we take care of and consider each other through our individual actions.
I take comfort
in imagining far away
humans hunkering down
with resignation, as if to say:
this is how I can help;
as if to say:
maybe someone I don't know
will make it out alive
because we canceled that party.
(We didn't really care for parties
May our disappointment
tend to someone far away;
may our inconvenience
offer life support to a stranger.
It's hard to feel like these actions
matter--because if we succeed
our efforts will be invisible--
millions of anonymous
benefactors and beneficiaries,
forever unknown to each other;
the ripple effect of self-quarantine
granting others a stay of execution.
They say if it works,
it will seem like we overreacted;
so let me be the fool
shouting in the square--
cheeks on fire.
May my care be contagious.
May my resolve be transmitted
to those who need it.
May my home be transformed:
not a prison, but a temple--
an intensive care unit
for someone I'll never meet.
Written in March 2020, when we were first asked to shelter in place.