TUCSON, Ariz. — Poetry centers at the University of Arizona and at Kent State University in Ohio are inviting people to share a few words, as a part of a global vaccine poem project.
During National Poetry Month in April, the universities are looking for stanzas from across the globe that reflect on the human experience of the pandemic.
“We're inviting people to read a sample poem, look at four simple prompts, pick one and add a line of poetry and response if they might like to. In any language they might choose to do that in,” said Tyler Meier, the executive director of UArizona’s Poetry Center.
The project is an effort to support vaccination efforts and personal responses to the historic challenges brought on by COVID-19. They say it’s exciting to see how universities take on complex social problems.
“Not just, say, the medicine that we need or the engineering solution, but there's also a human element of the lived experience here is incredibly important, and the humanities, have a transformational role to play in this regard,” said Meier.
“The skills that we teach in the humanities are about things like being collaborative and connecting with other people and reaching out to other communities and representing them. What we promote in the humanities things like empathy and caring about each other. This is the kind of project, where the humanities really have to play a role,” said Alain-Philippe Durand, the Dean of UArizona’s College of Humanities.
And although you can submit your poem online, the UA state vaccination pod will start distributing physical cards on Monday, April 5.
“You'll receive a card, if you go through the U of A pod, during the observation window. And the pod will have information about how to quickly participate online, which someone could do in the moment and could use that 15 minutes to reflect on the experience of being vaccinated. Or they could take the card with them and respond later,” said Meier.
That card can be mailed back.
Because this is a global project, it is also multi-lingual. The organizers are encouraging folks to use different languages. The printed poem cards are available in English and Spanish, and the website will have several language options.
At any time, the gallery of responses is available at globalvaccinepoem.com.