COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems

COVID Spring

Edited by Alexandria Peary

(97 pages, 2020, poetry)

COVID Spring is a timely and earnest collection of New Hampshire poems, edited by our state’s Poet Laureate, Alexandria Peary. You may already know that April is National Poetry Month, which has given readers and writers something to anticipate each spring since 1996. Of course, life was anything but business-as-usual in April of 2020. That year, Perry and her fellow Granite State poets had to rapidly shift operations. Dozens of them moved to a virtual writers’ group, and began creating poems about the new, all-consuming, and constantly evolving coronavirus pandemic. Perry’s prompt for this anthology was for poems specifically about daily life in New Hampshire in April 2020. The resulting compilation of 54 works makes for an emotionally tender, hyper-local, almost real-time (the book went to press in under a month) snapshot of life in our state in the very recent past. It was published by Concord-based independent press Hobblebush Books.

In these works, New Hampshire poets reflect on the pandemic life that they (and we) were thrust into, naively and haphazardly, in the spring of 2020. Gloved hands, empty streets, and cordoned-off grocery store aisles; closed libraries and cancelled events; uncertainty, vulnerability, and arms aching for now-forbidden hugs: this was New Hampshire two years ago. You can almost feel these writers turning to poetry as a form of therapy: putting pen to paper to process emotions that were too big, and too raw, for anywhere but the page. There is much talk of “essential workers,” that early-pandemic shibboleth that ruthlessly divided the workforce and (literally) put us all in our place. I appreciate that each poem is followed by a few prose sentences from the writer, summarizing the ways they saw their own home towns changing because of COVID.

I conclude this review by returning to the present, where—two years into the pandemic—hopeful news of the coronavirus is beginning to crop up and multiply like early spring blossoms. Maybe 2022 will be our last COVID spring! Despite all the horrors of the last two years, beautiful poetry still exists. Spring returns. Communities rally. Someday the world captured in these pages will be a distant memory. For now, let us turn to these local authors’ words as a balm for our individual, and collective, pain. Please note that this book fulfills multiple categories in the Concord Public Library’s 2022 Ultimate Book Nerd challenge, including Book by a New Hampshire Author; Book of Poetry; and Indie-Press Book.

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Faithe Miller Lakowicz

Author: Insider Staff

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