Tribute to Lesléa Newman

Friends, this is the final post of the Pandemic Poetry & Prose Project (PP&PP). We thank everyone for participating in the Project – all those who submitted, those whose pieces were published, those who read the posts every day, and those who worked behind the scenes to make it happen. Particularly, we would like to thank Lesléa Newman for bringing the idea of the Project to Straw Dog Writers.

          We have learned through Lesléa that the task of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase meaning “repairing the world,” is a responsibility we all share. As Lesléa recently explained, her channel for performing tikkun olam primarily occurs through words. During the earliest days of the Coronavirus pandemic, Lesléa sought a means of repairing the isolation and helplessness so many of us were feeling at the time. She invited others to join her in creating the Pandemic Poetry & Prose Project as a way to lift the spirits of our community (repair the world) and offset the separation, confusion and fear (brokenness) of the moment.

         What resulted from her goal – to offer writers a forum for expressing their thoughts and feelings about their personal confrontation with this pandemic, and to have readers “bear witness” by reading and relating to these writings – evolved into the Pandemic Poetry & Prose Project. With a team of committed, competent and steadfast Straw Dog members, and the talented SD administrator Laura Stone, Lesléa’s imaginings back in April propelled this endeavor into one of the most successful and well-appreciated efforts Straw Dog Writers Guild has accomplished in the decade since its founding.

         The words thank you seem inadequate to express our PP&PP team’s gratitude to you, Lesléa, for offering us this opportunity to join you on this inspiring journey during a moment of isolation and uncertainty in our personal and collective lives.

Beth Filson, Becky Jones, Patricia Lee Lewis, Mary Ann Scognamiglio, Stephanie Shafran, Jacqueline Sheehan, Laura Stone