Dear friends,

In this scramble of hand-washing and hand-wringing, when our everyday lives have been turned upside down, it is hard to find solace amidst the chaos. This is the time to reach out to one another, to find comfort in the small things, the first tentative crocuses, the chickadees bobbing at the bird feeder, the family gathered at the dinner table, the friends reaching out to one another by phone, text, email, and Zoom. While it is human touch we must avoid at this time, that warmth can come in so many other ways: from a Schubert string quartet, a wonderful book, a great conversation, a family walk along the Clark Fork River.

And poetry. Writing, reading, and creating poetry is a balm for the soul. Although our writers are not physically in the schools at this time, I want to salute their creativity and flexibility in reaching out to students throughout western Montana at this difficult time. Our writers are making video lessons and posting them on school websites, doing Zoom lessons, teaching by Google hangouts, creating a Cabin Fever Survival Guide for parents and kids. No, it is not the same as working together in the classroom, but it provides an expressive outlet for students and families in a turbulent time. It is a way to stay connected.

Please stay safe. And stay tuned. We have activities ranging from student and writer poems to poetry videos to Writers’ Room classes planned for April, National Poetry Month.

And when the coronavirus has passed, as poet Mark Gibbons, author of the new collection Mostly Cloudy says, we will still be here, teaching poetry.

“What we offer, is an awakening to poetry and the power of language. Some will go on writing, some will go on reading, some won’t, but those who don’t will always recognize it when they encounter it and it will have more power and influence in their lives because they learned to appreciate the humanity of it as kids in a school program where adults came in and wanted to hear what they had to say.”

Keep well. Stay connected. Keep writing!

Caroline Patterson
Executive Director