Editor’s Introduction to A Special Forum: Poetry in the Pandemic

In the spring of 2020, the editors of Tupelo Press announced an open call for chapbook-length folios that addressed themes of illness, contagion, pandemic, sheltering-in-place, isolation, wellness, and public health. We were overwhelmed by the response. In a few months’ time, we received nearly 1200 submissions from around the country and around the world. It wasn’t just the volume of submissions that impressed and humbled us. We were compelled by the sheer beauty, remarkable vision, and undeniable skill of the work submitted, and wanted to honor the many extraordinary manuscripts that we received. With that in mind, we decided to devote an issue of Tupelo Quarterly’s poetry offerings to showcasing some of the impressive work received our open call. The anthology of pandemic writing, Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic, edited by Kristina Marie Darling & Jeffrey Levine, will be launched in late November, 2020, with a Zoom reading on December 6th. In the meantime, we hope this special forum gives readers a sense of the stylistic range and incredible craftsmanship of the work received, and a sense of what we can all look forward to with the launch of Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic.