As anyone reading this may already know: on January 20th, 2021, the role of the inaugural poet returned to the White House for the first time since the Obama Administration. Amanda Gorman, the first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, read her poem The Hills We Climb for President Elect Joseph Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris’ inauguration. Amanda Gorman wowed us her with poise and eloquence. She inspired us with her spoken word and her message of unity and resilience. In a move most if not all poets would applaud, she offered respect and remembrance to the great Maya Angelou who once was also an inaugural poet. Above all, she motivated an innumerable population of Americans to want to read poetry, to write poetry – the ultimate goal of a poet laureate.
You are, I am, we are always practicing something all of the time – that this “something” changes now and then does not diminish the fact that whether or not we are consciously aware of it – some of our practices are constructive, and others are not. All practices have shape and all have impact. Our lives revolve around the construct of practice. The willing act to “create and have a practice” – even if for only a short time – helps one illuminate the power and depth of practice.
We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty. It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation. Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.
This particular time of the coronavirus challenges us to maintain our relationship with our creative lives and it very well could be a time of pause. One may find it hard to write when we’re worried about our health and livelihoods or our families. One of my favorite writers, Nicole Gulotta, recently discussed in her podcast Wild Words how writing is certainly essential but in a way that is different than our basic essential needs. This may very well be a period of time this year where we slow down or even stop writing because we feel exhausted, we don’t have the energy or the motivation, or we just don’t feel like it. All of this is okay and I would even say that it is certainly a part of living a writer’s life.
Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie and The Lake County Bloom invite Lake County writers to submit to our bi-weekly poetry column, Rooted in Poetry. This column is a collaboration to offer a platform for local writers to introduce themselves to the community through their writing. Writers of all backgrounds are welcome regardless of your experience or style. We support established and emerging writers and look forward to reading a wide range of work and perspectives.
Like all of you, I’m adjusting to this new lifestyle. No facet of my life is unaffected by the pandemic. I’m teaching classes from home. I’m homeschooling a teenager. I’m standing in line for toilet paper at 7:00 a.m. in a mask. I’m dealing with the personal and professional challenges of a “shelter in place” order, and when I get the chance, I’m writing. The following series of poems is dedicated to all of the students who are “sheltered in place” at home.
Art is a conversation. We absorb our worlds, consciously and unconsciously, and when we create art, we’re expressing those experiences, whatever they may be. With the shelter-in-place order, I no longer spent my days teaching in a high school classroom. My ears rang, not with the usual buzz of my 130 students, but with an unfamiliar silence. I felt myself floating in a bubble of space and solitude, listening rather than speaking, an exchange student in a new land.
Jordan O’Halloran lives in Kelseyville Riviera with her boyfriend and their cat, Fuzzykins. By day, she works at a non-profit here in Lake County and every other moment is spent writing. She has been an attendee of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for the last 2 years and attends Lake County writing events when she can. When not writing, you can find her cooking vegetarian food, daydreaming about trees and the ocean, and watching things on Disney Plus. You can find some of her writing in Santa Barbara Literary Journal Volume 2: Cor Serpentis and The Middletown Art Center’s chapbook RESILIENCE. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram as Jordanjotsjoy.
This is a time when we are honoring the new. Every day is different: our routines have been altered, and we are faced with uncertainty, which can be difficult to say the least. But we can still write, we can still create and perhaps even without the pressure to finish a poem or write a new book but simply to help us get through this time; to document a time when we were unsure how our day-to-day will proceed, but when we still stayed connected.