Poems about the Pandemic Preface by Adele Kenny


The Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Tiferet is now available. The issue features a special section of poems about the Pandemic. Below is the preface that was written by Adele Kenny, Tiferet’s Poetry Editor.

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In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. Whatever our place in society might be, this virus has, in one way or another, affected all of us. 

History will remember this pandemic, and generations that follow us will read and learn about it. The facts and statistics will be recorded and preserved. The poetry written during this time, however, will do far more than simply tell what happened—it will convey and remember how people felt

Human civilization has survived pandemics before, but never one quite the same as this one that has devastated our modern, intensely connected world. By nature, human beings are creatures of community and companionship. For those of us who have been isolating and working at home, sheltering indoors, social distancing and wearing masks, attending classes and meetings online, and dealing with the stresses and anxieties brought about by Covid-19 (not to mention all the other unsettling things concurrently going on in our world), there is no precedent to which we can refer, and many of us have felt alone, frightened, and lost. This terrible pandemic has shaken our lives and our world. The human spirit, however, is one in which perseverance and hope have always prevailed—and we will prevail. 

Following is a selection of poems that deal with Covid-19 and express how its presence among us was felt by some of our poets. These poems are part of literature’s record of this challenging time, and reflect a range of poets’ ways of defining and clarifying our fears and uncertainties. They also show how we look for comfort through written language.

Our place in history dictates the emotional truths of our poems, and our poems show how we observe and negotiate the psychology of this new and unfamiliar landscape. Robert Frost wrote, “Poetry is a momentary stay against the confusion of the world.” We hope that our sampling of “Covid poems” will provide a momentary “stay” for each of you.


ADELE KENNY, Tiferet’s poetry editor since 2006, is the author of 25 books, a former creative writing professor, and founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series Among other awards, she has received poetry fellowships from the NJ State Arts Council, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and Kean University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. One of her books was a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist, and she has twice been a featured Dodge Festival poet.

This is a small representation of the high-quality writings you’ll find in every issue of TIFERET.

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