Karen Sharpe – Other Voices

(Staff Submission)

Theme: None

Artist Statement:

Pre-pandemic, I was on the road a lot, which made it sometimes difficult to regularly practice my art, which is poetry. I work with a group of poets near Boston nearly every other week and curiously, by sheltering-at-home I was able work with them more regularly once we went virtual. While I hunkered down, fretted, and stressed through the early days, life went on as normal in the natural world. I looked out on that window of life and held my heart to it. I grounded myself every day knowing life was continuing. This series of five poems, Other Voices, is a selection from the poems I’ve written over the five months since the pandemic began. There is one poem for each month from March to July, tracing my fear and panic followed by a shift toward positivity and pragmatism. The final poem came after George Floyd was murdered. It’s a take on an Arabic form poem, called a Ghazal, consisting of seven couplets, with specific end rhymes and where the author must reference themselves and use their name in the final line. Since the name Karen is now considered a slur, I wanted to reclaim it justly.