Edited by Alice Quinn, the collection is poetically diverse and offers sentimental mediations and metaphors for the way we feel right now, as if therapeutic ... This is not a depressing collection, but rather one of creative documentary. Poets provide intimate glimpses into personal struggle with the coronavirus, and how it can be overcome; sometimes that struggle cannot. Quinn provides a welcome collection of creative healing. We want to know what the literary community is honestly and openly thinking about the virus. We want to know how poets heal. This collection grants that knowledge.
Together in a Sudden Strangeness gathers more than 100 poets, whose consummate skill and invaluable insight shed light on the unprecedented experiences of this year’s global pandemic. As COVID-19 case numbers now spike across the country, this collection appears at the exact moment when the nuanced and profound nourishment it offers may be needed most ... Through a wide range of forms, these poems find ways to honor experiences of deep suffering and sacrifice, while also resisting the easy dismissal of small, everyday struggles. They confront the injustices that make some communities especially vulnerable now, while also valuing the intimate observations brought on by the relative peace of domestic lockdown ... Given its subject matter, Together suggests a collective experience of staggering complexity. But out of its many perspectives rises a cumulative impression more focused than that complexity suggests. From these poets’ voices emerges a powerful drive toward fuller, humbler understanding of the role we each play, individually, in a much grander picture ... Both cathartic and challenging, Together in a Sudden Strangeness provides an early glimpse into how literary writers will discover new form and language to convey the unfolding perils of this unprecedented time. In these poems, we experience the enduring capacity of the human imagination to locate meaning, beauty, and witness — even in the direst circumstances.
Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic [...] is a collection in and of the wreck, calling readers back to the spring, when the anthology’s editor Alice Quinn summoned some of poetry’s brightest lights, from Jericho Brown to Li-Young Lee, Ada Limón to Fanny Howe—about a hundred in all ... In its imagery and mood, the collection feels distinctly April. The poems conjure senior shopping hours and empty shelves in the toilet paper aisle, how the supply chain seemed simultaneously to be drying up and overfull ... The collection thus pulls the reader back to the spring, and so many of its insights feel recognizable, not least of which is the awe that many of the poets express that spring has come at all ... Reading these poems in January, we can only notice how the cruelty has gone on and on and intensified.