April 3, 2020

Adjusting to an Online Existence

I have spent the past three weeks in self-quarantine. Most of my days are spent in front of my phone as a I try to make sense of this unprecedented moment. As some of us fight to retain a sense of normalcy, either through weekly online seminars with our classmates, morning Zoom meetings with our bosses, or FaceTime calls with our family or friends, there remains an inevitable feeling of disconnection amidst a plethora of virtual exchanges. How does one adequately adjust to isolation? My fellow Tufts blogger, Stacey Park, gave wonderful reading suggestions this week to help take your eyes away from your cell phone screen. However, if you do find yourself sucked into a social media wormhole or glued to your computer screen, I have a few suggestions to explore within the realm of online poetry. While we may be stuck in our homes or apartments for a while longer, let these poets and writers help you maintain a semblance of sanity in these chaotic times.

Ariana Reines, the 2020 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Award winner, began a free ten-part online course titled RILKING where she reads Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies from 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. EST until April 7. She began this series on March 24, so there are still many classes that you can attend via Zoom. Reines provides an easily accessible, yet truly thought-provoking reading of Rilke and the New York school of poetry. For more information, and specific meeting dates, visit her Instagram page @arianareines.

The Poetry Foundation put out a great podcast this month. Producer Rachel James interviews Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth and Australian poet, John Kinsella. They discuss the connections between music, poetry and activism—my three favorite things. I hope you enjoy!

On March 26, the New York Times published an article in their travel section titled “When the World Stops, Traveling in John Keats’s ‘Realms of Gold.’” This article explores Keats’s ten days in quarantine in Naples during the typhus outbreak in 1820. Frances Mayes relates Keats’s time in quarantine in the Bay of Naples with the current global situation. Mayes reminds us to find hope and solace in poetry during this uncertain time. Find it here.

Whereas these suggestions are only temporary distractions from an unsteady future, I hope they bring you some sense of ease. This adjustment period is difficult to navigate, and I am unsure that I will ever truly acclimate myself to this new way of being. However, I believe that none of us are truly alone in this experience. I am incredibly inspired by the sense of community that is being created online currently. This blog can be a place of community as well. If anyone reading this needs someone to talk to, or wants to give me any additional poetry, podcast or movie recommendations, please feel free to reach out. I’ll be here. Stay safe and be well.

—Jordan Wheatley
Find Blogger-in-Residence Jordan Wheatley on Twitter @jordanlwheat