The Poetry of the Pandemic
AbstractThis autoethnographic essay is a co-constructed endeavour that documents how we—a MotherScholar and a Black Woman scholar—both used poetic inquiry as feminist methodology (Faulkner) in order to respond to and find reprieve from the emotional gamut we each experienced during COVID-19. Though not professional poets, we value the craft of poetry and found it most suitable to capture the emotional labour of performing our caregiving responsibilities as mother and grandmother in our respective home spaces while trying to maintain our (virtual) workloads in institutes of higher education. Poetry was an opportunity for us to make sense of our changing identities and unpredictable emotions while being constantly bombarded with experiences and roles we never asked for or ever anticipated confronting—at home or work.
The poems vary in content and form in an attempt to capture the diversity of experiences we each encountered while attempting to weather the same storm but in different boats. Collectively, the poems speak to the competing messages of comfort and confusion we each received during this volatile and traumatic time. By sharing our lived experiences, we invite others to bear witness to our COVID-19 realities of being forced to care for everyone and everything while still trying to care for ourselves, and we hope that readers find solace in a shared story, adopt this selfinquiry method as a form of self-care, and/or are prompted to check on any and all of the mothers that are just trying to survive COVID-19.
When home becomes your office
When work invades your kitchen
When you teach other people’s children while your own children sleep twenty feet away
When online #crisisschooling is forcing you to choose between teaching your daughter math or being a good mom
When the incessant, unmistakable ding of emails demanding accountability for your time, your whereabouts, your productivity bombards your screen—
What are you doing?! Show me! Count it up.
Tally it again in a different format.
Tally due today!
New tally in a different format for a different reason due tomorrow!!
Convince me you are doing your job!!!
Your care for your children better not be getting in your way!
—while you try to focus on the comforting hum of students learning from you
online in another open tab
When COVID-19 forces a nation to observe a stay-at-home order, when can a MotherScholar find her own space among the unsolicited, unreasonable, and unimaginable expectation to become all things, to all people, at all times
When the pandemic tries to tell you that you CAN’T be a mother and a scholar in the same space, at the same time
…in the stolen moments between feeding children and contributing in Zoom meetings,
…in the margins of a work journal borrowed from her children’s bag of returned school supplies,
…in the form of a poem. (Burrow)
How to Cite
All intellectual property in relation to material included on this site belongs to the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI). All material on this site is protected by Canadian and international copyright and other intellectual property laws. Users may not do anything which interferes with or breaches those laws or the intellectual property rights in the material. All materials on the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) are copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, sale, distribution, display or exploitation of the information, in any form or by any means, or its storage in a retrieval system, whether in whole or in part, without the express written permission of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) is prohibited. Please contact us for permission to reproduce any of our materials. This site may include third party content which is subject to that third party's terms and conditions of use.