A new Vancouver Island poetry anthology is capturing life in isolation during COVID-19.
On Dec. 5 the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library Creativity Commons hosted an online book launch for its latest publication, Alone but Not Alone: Poetry in Isolation. The book features 70 poems by 42 poets from Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the Gulf Islands, including more than a dozen from the Nanaimo area. There are even some poets who live on the Island but are currently isolating in other parts of Canada and overseas.
“This was an idea I put together during the lockdown period to try to bring more people together, so even though we’re isolated, we’re feeling connected in some way,” Creativity Commons manager Jonathon Bigelow said.
Poets of any age or experience level were welcome and as a result the book includes poets laureate and poets being published for the first time. In his call for submissions, Bigelow asked for poets to present works that reflected upon their feelings and experiences during the pandemic. That theme was interpreted broadly as intended and the collection features poems that are joyous and sorrowful, humorous and truthful.
“With poetry and the arts I try to keep it on point and vague in a way that people can talk about their story,” he said. “The idea was to try to collect a general story from people during this time and what they’re experiencing.”
Bigelow said it was a fun project to work on and “it brings people together in a nice way during trying times.” This will be particularly evident when poets from across the Island region unite online to read their poems during the book launch.
“We’re all going through this period of isolation and keeping apart and this was just a nice way to get to know people from all over Vancouver Island and all the way up to Haida Gwaii and get to interact and spend time together in a way that you wouldn’t normally have had the opportunity,” Bigelow said.
Copies of Alone but Not Alone are being added to the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library collection and can be requested through any Vancouver Island Regional Library branch. They will also be available for purchase from Creativity Commons.