Among the many disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, the loss of the chance to celebrate a new book of poetry is far from the most acute—yet the loss of the opportunity to read from, talk about, and share new books of poems still felt like a piquant one we wanted to try to address. We decided to do a series of interlocking interviews between poets whose plans to read publicly from a new book had been interrupted by the virus. We would begin in conversation with each other, and then each of us would interview other poets with a new book; each of those poets would in turn interview another, using some shared questions and some new ones.
What follows is a kind of fractal, branching set of conversations about these books of poetry and the world they are coming into. When we conceived this idea, in March, the global pandemic was central in the news and at the forefront of our minds. As the spring turned into summer, the demonstrations against state and police brutality urgently and increasingly illuminated the intersection of the pandemic with another, deeper-rooted public health crisis, that of anti-Black racism and violence. The conversations between poets, presented here in roughly chronological order, reflect these evolving events and issues. Readers may be able to trace the contexts unfolding through these interlinking interviews.
Thank you for reading.
Katherine Hollander and Dora Malech