Social Distancing

Self-portrait, March 15, 2020
Every single reading and event I was involved in during March and April has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Book launches, literary festivals, National Poetry Month readings – poof!

As I'm writing this tonight, America is spiraling toward an Italy-style lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. The CDC just published guidelines banning gatherings of 50 people or more; schools and most entertainment venues are closed; there's panic buying in the supermarkets (toilet paper?! WTF?!?) Chicago and New York are shutting restaurants and bars. This "new normal" is going to suck.

I have been preparing to become a shut-in. Karen Head and I have selected all the poems for the Mother Mary Comes To Me anthology and we're starting to work on sequencing, which we can do online. I have enough food (I think), a stack of books and every streaming channel in Christendom, so I'm ready. Maybe.

Like everyone else, I'm worried about my health, my job, my retirement account and what coronavirus will do to the poetry and writing community. The anxiety and uncertainty is undoing a lot of my friends.

While you're likely trapped in your home and doing the whole social distancing thing, buy books and have them delivered (as long as delivery is available). Buy them directly from poets and writers who are hurting due to lack of gigs, buy them from the small presses, buy them from your indie bookstores. My publisher, Sibling Rivalry Press, is offering free shipping using the code READ, and my favorite local bookstore here in Atlanta, Charis Books, is offering $1 shipping. See if your local bookstores are offering something similar. We're going to need literature more than ever to get us through this crisis.

If you're not following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (all @collinkelley), that's where I'm doing most of my posting these days. Come follow along and let's talk and keep each other company.

Keep well, my friends.


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