LIKE THIS by Susanna Lang
Like This was mostly written during the Covid lockdown but it is not a pandemic diary, despite poems that reference that collective experience. The pandemic is more like the air these poems breathe, an exploration of loss and what sustains us through loss. Even deaths from other causes were more painful than they would have been at another time, as we couldn’t be with the dying when they needed us. So much else drains out of our world, drop by drop: languages that people are forgetting how to speak, dogwoods developing fatal diseases of their own, liberties that people have been imprisoned for defending. Even as we take off our masks and return to activities that bring us community and joy, our world is diminished every day.
Writing is a large part of what sustained writers locked down with their notebooks and laptops; it provided structure and purpose when there was nowhere to go and other work had become remote. Poetry is rooted in our ability to say this is like that, so the titles in this collection are similes, and the poems were written in alphabetical order, a device that propelled the writing. If “J” had been drafted, it was time to begin “K,” no matter how difficult that letter proved to be. Poetry also grows out of music, and the poems sing in a variety of forms. For readers, too, poetry sings of hope and a reason to keep going, no matter what else is happening in our individual worlds.
Publication Date: Feb. 21, 2023