A local writer has published a book of poetry that reflects the highs and lows of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie Nolan is no stranger to creative writing; but she says she hadn’t written a lot of poetry until the pandemic hit in March. “It just seemed like there were so many unbelievable things happening that I just got an urge to start writing about it in little, short, observational ways,” she remembers. “Haiku is such a great format for that.”
Katie has not only been writing daily haikus, but she has also been sharing them on Facebook, garnering a lot of support from her network. As soon as she started posting, she found that a lot of people connected and resonated with her poetry, which drove her to write and share even more. “I sort of got to the point where I had this table at home that was just covered with post-it notes with all the haikus on them. There were so many things to say. It just happened very organically and, as I saw that people were enjoying reading the poems, I just kept going.”
Katie’s new book of poetry includes 238 haikus, one a day from March 25 to October 31, which reflect the variety of feelings and emotions that come with living through a global pandemic. At first, some of them were kind of funny, reflecting the disbelief that many people were feeling during the early days of COVID-19. As the pandemic drew on, they morphed into having a more serious tone, epitomizing some of the other world events happening at the time, as well as the deteriorating mental health that many are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. “A lot of the poems deal with how we can maybe help each other through hard times. But there is also a kind of back and forth between us as humans and this virus that has turned our lives upside down.”
Katie decided early on that she wanted to put together a collection of the poems, so that her readers online could have a hard copy of the haikus. She partnered with local artist, Meredith Luce, who illustrated the collection with one black and white image for each of the months represented in the book. “Seeing Meredith’s concepts for each month was so emotional for me, because she’s pulled out the phases of the pandemic and kind of what some of our hot issues were as you span that given month. To see them all depicted like that as a flow of images is really amazing.”
For Katie, writing the haikus has been a very meditative practice and an interesting way to connect with the community. “It’s kind of a way to connect with people and maybe give voice to some of the things that are hard to say sometimes. It’s just a small thing everyday that I do. It doesn’t take much time. But, taken all together, it becomes a bigger piece that really tracks the trail we’ve walked.”
The first edition of COVID Pandemic in Seventeen Syllables is being printed locally at COBA Studios in Merrickville. It is $10 and is now available for pre-order at www.luceends.com. All profits from the book will be going to support local charities, and books ordered before November 25 are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas.
Katie hopes that this collection of haikus will help people feel connected, and that they see some of themselves reflected in the pages. “[I hope] they enjoy having a kind of diary, if you will, of what this year has been about.”
To keep up with Katie’s writing and her daily haikus (which are ongoing), find her on Facebook under Katie Nolan, author.
Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times