ART IN THE TIME OF UNBEARABLE CRISIS
Edited by Stephanie Raffelock
Art keeps good alive in the worst of times. In the face of ugliness, pain, and death, it’s art that has the power to open us all to a healing imagining of new possibility; it’s art that whispers to the collective that even in the ashes of loss, life always grows again. That’s why right now, in this tumultuous time of war and pandemic, we need poets more than we need politicians.
PUBLISHED JUNE 28TH, 2022
Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis is that collective exhale, of She Writes Press authors
answering a call and giving voice to this moment.
from the forward of
ART IN THE TIME OF UNBEARABLE CRISIS,
by the publisher, Brooke Warner
This anthology came to be because we’re hurting. As a people, we have been sick and we have lost loved ones. We have been isolated, dealing with the fallout of distance and endings. With the war in Ukraine, cellular losses have crashed to the surface for refugees and their children and their children’s children, in addition to immediate tragedies and atrocities we see unfold each and every day. We live in a toxic political wasteland where public discourse has devolved to such a degree that most of us carry hatred in our hearts for people we don’t even know. The social justice movement, a bright spot on the stain of this historical moment in time, exists in response to deep-seated hurts that will take generations to heal. Basic rights I once took for granted—to love who we want to love, to express how we want to express, to live free from attacks on our identities—feel threatened.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve sat in Zoom circles—of writers in classes I’ve taught, and of seekers in classes where I’ve been blessed to support Mark Nepo and Parker Palmer, both teachers and best-selling authors who bring deep wisdom and comfort to the aching hearts of the souls they gather. These pandemic-era Zoom rooms are our modern gathering spaces, the only spaces most of us have had to connect. Many writers and creators in these rooms have shared their deep ambivalence, not so different from that which I felt upon Stephanie’s proposal for Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis. Blocking people’s creative spirits is ambivalence, but also grief and aimlessness and guilt. Creators will question why their art matters when there’s so much suffering in the world. I’ve not felt so much grief or guilt myself, but I’ve been besieged by outrage. I’ve felt tired, too, like a cliff buttressed up against a rugged sea getting bashed with waves and pelted by sand picked up by high winds—worn by the elements of this existence. Not exactly the best conditions for feeling inspired to write or create.
While I’ve not been inspired to write or create due to these conditions, I have been devouring books and audiobooks. I read somewhere that the reciprocity of writing and reading is like exhaling and inhaling. A beautiful metaphor for how we need both—the exhale being the creative release, the inhale being the inspiring intake that feeds us. Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis is that collective exhale, of She Writes Press authors answering a call and giving voice to this moment. This thoughtful chorus of women is offering the essays, poems, and art in these pages as a means to connect, to bear witness, and to log a record of these times. In these pages are stories of family histories carried through the generations. There is confession—of loneliness, of grief, of fear of what the future holds. There are stories of death and having to survive its lonely aftermath. And there are stories of birth—of babies born during the pandemic—and rebirth, as some of us have discovered or recovered aspects of ourselves during this time, too. There are stories of longing and of laughing even when nothing is funny, because sometimes that’s all we can do.
– BROOKE WARNER
ALL PROCEEDS DONATED TO
The collection of essays, poetry and art in this book are meant to feed and nourish our hearts and minds. It’s what women do – we feed people. To that end, the proceeds from this work will be donated to the non-profit World Central Kitchen, an organization conceived by chef José Andrés as a way to feed people affected by natural disasters and war.
WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN financially supports food banks and restaurants that provide free food throughout the world.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ
FROM AMY FERRIS, AUTHOR, MARRYING GEORGE CLOONEY,
CONFESSIONS FROM A MIDLIFE CRISIS
“These are brave and beautiful and riveting pieces that reinforce the absolute truth that art indeed saves lives, and to make art in the midst of war or crisis or any form of turbulence is triumphant. To make things—create things—to 'write, to sing, to dance, to pay homage to grief upon an altar in the corner of our garden,’ as Stephanie Raffelock writes in the introduction, is indeed how we change the world, clean up the messes of hatred and violence and indecency. Making art is life-changing and life-affirming, and this book, this stunning collection, is filled to the brim with that affirmation.”
FROM JENNIE NASH, FOUNDER & CEO OF AUTHOR ACCELERATOR
“Want a perfect example of `show, don't tell'? It's this book. Show us that art matters in times of despair. Show us the power of a publisher on a mission to raise women's voices. Show us those women coming together create something beautiful. It’s all here in these pages.”
FROM DEBRA LANDWEHR ENGLE,
AUTHOR OF THE ONLY LITTLE PRAYER YOU NEED and TWENTY:
“This extraordinary anthology reminds us that, in the end, love always triumphs. It's a gift for each reader and a much-needed balm for our collective heart and soul.”