The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic prompted a seismic shift toward virtual events. Meeting platforms offered opportunities for us to honor our mission in ways that were not always immediately comfortable or familiar. We stayed safe, achieving global reach, minimizing venue and travel costs, and sustaining our programming.
The Poetry Society of Virginia reimagined ways to socially distance and embraced engaging poetry audiences in a digital space.
The shift underscored the importance of adaptability and innovation, showing that even in times of crisis, the human spirit — specifically, the poet's spirit — can find ways to connect and collaborate.
We now champion technology as our ally for staying connected and informed.
And virtual events remain a valuable part of our focus on creating a thriving 21st century poetry organization.
Vice President Cathy Hailey (Northern Region) and former Vice President Angela Dribben (Western Region) developed the Virginia Voices virtual monthly series to elevate the voices and work of Virginia poets leading up to our Centennial Festival in May 2023.
The work of these two PSV members has been wildly successful in bringing together poets from across the state. Featured guests have had opportunities to talk about their approaches to craft and their vision for PSV.
Vice President Cathy Hailey
Where Art Meets the Line
Virtual audiences hear from poets who integrate poetry with other art forms. They write poems inspired by their own art or create art inspired by their own poems. Guests have included Maryland State Poet Laureate Emerita Grace Cavalieri, Virginia State Poet Laureate Emerita Luisa Igloria, 2022-2024 Prince William County Poet Laureate Michelle Garcia, and other poets who work across different art forms.
Across the Lines of Land and Language
Black Women Writers in Conversation
Taking inspiration from RELATIONS: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices, this online
event, “Across the Lines of Land and Language: Black Women Writers in Conversation,” celebrated Black women writers from around Virginia for readings and a conversation about the diversity of African American, African, and Caribbean experiences.
Panelists discussed nuances in identity, class, gender, and language in the work of Black women writers sometimes overlooked in mainstream culture.
What forms and styles are most effective in exploring these nuances?
How do different Black literatures think with and about one another?
Lauren K. Alleyne
The inaugural virtual Across the Lines discussion series event organized by PSV and Advisory Board member Catherine Fletcher fostered appreciation for the work of Black women writers in Virginia; explored the diversity and richness of the Black experience; and addressed some of the challenges for writers and readers of all backgrounds posed by the presence of cultural narratives, which can separate or subjugate us.