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Poet laureate's work joins pandemic voices collection

Works from a Texas Poet Laureate soon will join those of TWU Community members and others who have given voice to the emotions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in a special university collection.

Fresh off the press, a chapbook of COVID-related poems by 2010 Texas Poet Laureate Karla K. Morton will be added to the Voices of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Chancellor Carine M. Feyten Collection at TWU. Morton, a celebrated poet, photographer, speaker, author and storyteller, contacted Phyllis Bridges, PhD, Cornaro Professor of English, after learning of the call for submissions and offered to contribute poems for the collection.

“Her offer was gratefully accepted,” Bridges said.

“I have known and admired Karla for a long time,” she added, noting that the English Alumni Chapter of the TWU Alumni Association invited Morton to share her poetry and sign her books on campus in 2010 when she was named poet laureate of Texas. The success of that event led Morton to return to the Denton campus to share her poetry.

“She is well acquainted with Dr. Feyten and has many friends on campus,” Bridges said of Morton.

In describing her process for creating the chapbook, Morton wrote:

 

“In the great cycle of our world, humanity has experienced, once again, 
the tragedy of virus — an unseen predator that has claimed the lives of so many.
It would be so easy to just give up, to throw our hands up in the air
and give into hopelessness.

 

But let us remember, instead, what came after the great plagues of old: 
Renaissance.

 

This is what artists do.
We take this unsavory dish of despair and ingest it, feeling every ounce of it,
then turn it into something cleansed, something the heart can hold onto:
yes, there is pain and struggle and catastrophe,
but look at how we endure; look at the glorious way we become stronger.

 

This chapbook "Where to Go Among the Chaos"
is a narrative of just that — one woman's journey through the pandemic,
but written for everyone to identify with.
 
This has taken an emotional toll on all of us — not just the worry of infection,
but the burden of suddenly being confined in ways we never experienced before.
And while some thrive in this situation, many do not.  
So many believe they have failed themselves and their relationships.
 
But, as Fate has a way of proving, 
we find we emerge from such tragedies by having found a new strength: survival.
And with survival, comes a soul-freeing happiness.
 
It is a lionhearted thing to go after our own happiness.
We are called reckless, foolish.
There are things we gain.  There are things we lose.
But sometimes, that is the gift such chaos can bring to us.
 
Our time on this earth is so short.
Brave this world, my friends. 
Above all else, be happy.”

 

TWU’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, under the leadership of executive director and chief officer Mary Anne Alhadeff, provided funding for the chapbook. Copies of the chapbook will be available for checkout at the TWU Library, and it also will be available online as part of the COVID-19 pandemic voices collection. Morton will distribute copies as she makes appearances throughout the country once public gatherings can be scheduled again, Bridges said. Morton also will be invited to return to TWU to share her poems on the pandemic as well as her new book of photography and poetry on America’s national parks, due for release in November. Visit texaspoetlaureate.com for more information on Morton and her works.

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Note: Each of us brings our own unique and personal experience to understanding how the pandemic affects our community and the world. You’re invited to contribute your writings, artwork, photos and more to the Voices of the Coronavirus Pandemic collection. Learn how.