“You know, you should edit an anthology about COVID-19. Capture the raw emotions and coping mechanisms of people from all over the world—while the pandemic is still ongoing.”
I shook my head to rid it of that crazy thought.
It came back stronger. “Millions of people throughout the world are experiencing the same emotions—anger, anxiety, fear, sadness. But they don’t realize their feelings are universal—truly universal.”
I couldn’t argue with that, so I ran a small ad, thinking I’d be out a few bucks and that little voice in my head would finally take a nap.
Instead, hundreds of submissions from new writers to well-published authors and from art students to world-renowned artists poured in. Entries arrived from six continents (all but Antarctica!). From throughout the U.S. and Canada. From South Africa and Zimbabwe. From Australia and New Zealand. From England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands. From India and Bangladesh. From Argentina. Writers and artists from ten years old to somewhere in their nineties sent poems, original artwork, fiction, essays, photographs, and scripts.
As I read, my heart ached for people suffering in so many ways from this unprecedented situation. But these entries carried much more than tears. They also showed the resilience of the human spirit. Many offered encouragement. Some shared ways of coping—especially creative ways, such as taking up new hobbies. Others found humor in the quest for toilet paper, the mandate to “wash your hands,” and hair—from new hairdos and natural hair colors of those who can no longer see their hairdressers to COVID cuts for those who took the problem into their own hands. Some described new skills or practices that have improved their lives—things they will retain long after the pandemic is over. And many showed appreciation to the ones who’ve sacrificed to keep the world moving.
What ties them all together? The universal experience of living in isolation and anxiety during a global pandemic with no end in sight. People are in crisis and need to share their experiences and imaginative solutions. Painstaking decisions were made to cut down the deluge of entries to this final selection of 100 pieces representing 84 authors and artists.
I’ve always said that when you share your art or your writing, you share your soul. And we now celebrate the courageous people who have bared their souls to give you a glimpse into their lives.
While all the entries are in English, many are flavored by British spelling and punctuation, American dialect, or some combination thereof. To protect the ethnic and cultural seasoning of the contributors, we have edited with a light hand, keeping the vernacular of the country of origin.
I hope you are as touched as I have been by these honest, from-the-gut reactions while still IN THE MIDST of this historic pandemic. Hopefully, we’ll see our way out of this soon, and this anthology will become a collection to help future generations understand exactly what it was like to endure separation from friends and family, shutdowns of schools, churches, and “non-essential” businesses, and, of course, the fear and suffering caused by illness and death.
Thank you for reading. We do not expect that every entry will entertain every reader, but we are sure each reader will be profoundly affected by at least a few of the entries.
NOTE: The cover was designed and created by Lana Hunneyball. The artwork featured on the card faces are among the more than 30 original creations or photos included within the anthology.