The Franklin School, home of Planet Word. Credit: Darrow Montgomery / File

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Poems for the Pandemic

After the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Planet Word Curator of Programming Rebecca Roberts thought no one would be in the mood for the museum’s poetry event scheduled for that night. It turned out to be well attended: “I didn’t realize how deeply people want to turn to poetry for wisdom and solace and comfort in times of trauma,” she says. So when Harvard literature professor Lisa New wrote an article about the role of poetry in processing the pandemic, Roberts realized there was an opportunity to further explore our difficult times through poetry. New, the creator and host of Poetry in America, a PBS series aimed at making poetry accessible and interesting to the public, will be presenting poetry in roughly four categories in an educational event on April 6. Interviewing Washington Post book editors, Roberts learned that readers have tended to either dive into pandemic subjects, crave escapism, return to comfort texts, or lose patience for reading. The program’s delineations attempt to engage the different needs of different people. Ultimately, the museum’s goal is to renew one’s joy in language (never to prescribe how language “should” be). While the interactive museum physically reopened April 1, its “delightful” virtual programming remains robust. The upcoming Poems for the Pandemic event aims to provide that kind of opportunity to connect with language—in this case through poetry, which has long helped us work through confusing times. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. on April 6. Registration is available at planetwordmuseum.org. Free.