I'm still here...

My quarantine reading stack.
Despite Georgia's moronic governor opening businesses and restaurants and letting the shelter-in-place order expire, I'm still in lockdown mode. Here in Atlanta and Fulton County, we have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to resume their normal lives by completely ignoring social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. I'm guessing we'll see a significant spike in cases in a few weeks, especially after this weekend's sunny weather and a much ballyhooed flyover by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds brought thousands out to the parks and walking trails. I digress.

In the month since I last posted, I've done absolutely zero of my own writing (save for putting some stray words and lines into my iPhone that might eventually become poems), but I've written enough about COVID-19 for the magazine to fill a new trilogy of novels. My days have been spent posting updates and covering how the pandemic has affected Atlanta. After sitting in front of my computer all day and half the night, the last thing I want to do is even more writing.

Since April was National Poetry Month, there were plenty of online poetry readings. Maybe too many. Many of my interviews for the magazine and all of our staff meetings have been on Zoom and, honestly, I'm kinda over it. Zoom fatigue is real, y'all. However, since the Poetry Atlanta Presents... reading I host/curate with Georgia Center for the Book was cancelled, I did round up JC Reilly, Mike James, and Julie E. Bloemeke to read via Zoom and was pleased with the turnout. We had more than 50 tuning in to watch the poets read from their new collections. Maybe one the pandemic is over, an occasional online reading might not be a bad thing. Fifty people watching poetry on a Monday night was pretty rad. 

I did manage to film several videos to be included in various National Poetry Month events, including Kai Coggin's spectacular Wednesday Night Poetry event on Facebook. Kai solicited videos from poets for a virtual open mic and it was so popular even the New York Times wrote about it. On April 20, I was honored to be part of the reading that included U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (who was just selected for a second term!), Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab-Nye. You can find my reading on my Instagram (@collinkelley) and the Wednesday Night Poetry page on FB, where you an also indulge in all the great poems and poets.

I've binge-watched nearly everything on the streaming platforms: "Westworld," "Ozark," "Tiger King," "Extraction," and on and on and on. I've broken up the binges by continuing to read Virginia Woolf's letters and re-reading To the Lighthouse. 

While the lockdown has been in place, I've tried not to beat myself up over not doing any writing. I've got another collection completed that needs sequencing, I've got poems written before the virus arrived that need redrafting, and I've got ideas on how to complete my long-delayed full collection of short stories. But, honestly, I haven't felt like touching it. My mind has been overwhelmed to near numbness with the daily news and the idiocy Trump. I was offended by the constant social media memes suggesting that if you weren't being creative or learning a new skill that you were being a lazy bum. Fuck off with that noise. I put on 15 pounds while I was binge-watching "Westworld," so suck on that, too. 

I have no idea when the world will return to anything near normal. To be honest, I suspect it never will. This has been a life-altering, traumatizing planetary event and I don't think we will be the same people when it's over. I'd like to think we'd be a more unified, supportive society, but that's some big old pie in the sky. 

Hope all of you are still well and doing the best that you can under the circumstances. 


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