Life/Lines in Challenging Times

Our community — the Washington University community — is currently spread across the globe. Even those remaining in the St. Louis region are isolated and distanced, one from the other. Where are the lifelines? How do we stay connected beyond our classes and our daily work lives?

At the Center for the Humanities, with April’s National Poetry Month right around the corner, we decided: this is how we do it!

Next week the humanities center is launching Life/Lines, a poetry project that invites everyone — from the published poet to those who have never written a word of poetry in their lives — to create short poems in response to a daily prompt. Because Washington University is international, multilingual institution, we are accepting poetry in any language. All poems will be published on our website. (Authors can decide whether or not they want their names included.)

We hope this daily poetry practice will generate and sustain the Life/Lines among us. We also hope it will create a vibrant and lasting archive of how our faculty, staff and students survived these most unprecedented of times. 

One glimpse at any social media outlet over the past week reveals just how much the arts and the humanities are nourishing our hearts and minds and keeping us connected during these days of distance. Of course, that is what the arts and humanities do … and have always done. They generate and sustain human/ties.

But it is especially evident now, from our quarantined stations of isolation, that it is the poems, the novels, the films, the contested histories (including of 1918!), the music, the images of works of art from shuttered museums, and our lively conversations about them, that are our daily sustenance.

Sign up for daily email prompts and join us in Life/Lines — our first poem prompt will be out on April 1!