Poet and Poets' Choice Director Richard Harteis is Pleased to Announce the Publication of "Plague Poems: 2020 Vision"
These new works reflect on life since the pandemic began with allusions to Albert Camus’ philosophy and his indictment of the fascism of WWII, a plague which seems to have raised its ugly head in our own time. The collection is augmented with stunning, shamanistic paintings by Rita Dawley as well as beautiful floral images by the Chinese artist Yujuan Zhai (Juner Patnode) symbols of peace and hope.
"Like other artists in this pandemic, I have struggled to come to terms with all the new burdens it has brought us: masks, social distancing, shortages, less than truthful politicians and scientists, loneliness, fear, sexual frustration, and the sad irony of putting all this in the context of a beautiful spring and creatures not knowing the world has changed. A woodpecker’s rat-tat-tapping on a tree in the forest for his breakfast, puffs of daisy seeds floating on the breeze, the sun so warm, the grass so green and fresh. Purple martins, American woodcocks, rusty blackbirds, and tree swallows dropping in for the spring. Robins and tiny hummingbirds miraculously making their way across the Gulf to drink a little bit of sugar water in burgeoning blossoms.
"It is a world Camus first looked at in his book, 'The Plague,' and in another, 'The Stranger.' His words become prologue and epilogue to my own observations, and in the middle of all of this so far, the season of Easter with its promise of resurrection and transformation: a chance for love, amusement, and hope - just training your mind to observe what the world has become and what it may yet be.
"I divided the book into four parts, somewhat arbitrarily beginning with Pandemic; then Play, including occasional observations, attempts at humor and so forth; then Roommate since when you’re living with someone you get to learn a lot about them; and finally Easter, with prayers to help us see the light. A single poem serves as an epilogue since its rather bleak assessment does not really suit for the section titled Easter. Still, as an indictment of capital punishment, it seems an appropriate vision of Camus’ humanism, his compassion for our predicament. And as Da Vinci has said, 'it is an infinitely atrocious act to take away the life of a man.' It is an act we continue to see in the lives of Americans of all creeds and colors. It is an act the virus has committed atrociously in thousands of cases now. These poems mean nothing if they forget those thousands who in desperation and courage have achieved their own death as must we all one day."