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.
The editor Alice Quinn’s Covid-era anthology, Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, falters on every front. This lukewarm book, largely uncompromised by alert feelings, political insight, wit, striking intellect or lightning of any variety, is — to borrow a slab of Orwell’s Newspeak — doubleplus ungood ... Quinn has good feelers, except when they fail her, as they do here ... A few of these poems evoke the realities of blue-collar life, but mostly they’ve been written as if by comfortable indoor cats ... A few strong poems and some bright moments aside, Together in a Sudden Strangeness leaves little mark on the mind. It makes American poetry seem as if it is dazed and sated, in critical care and intubated.