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The Stories

D.P., 31, an Assistant Professor of English Literature in New Delhi, India

“The government officials have estimated the numbers of virus infected people in Delhi itself is going to be more than 5 lakh by July end. It is quite a spectacle. A spectacle of numbers ! They have become so indispensable  in the way of perceiving reality. We are straightjacketed into a dense matrix of numbers. Big data, statistics, surveys, meter readings of power connection, grades and even citizen identity. Poetry gives me a fresh lease of life to breathe in this age of numbers.”

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M.S., 44, a poet and editor in Jersey City, NJ

“I still remember the afternoon of March 13, 2020, when I started following the official site of the New Jersey Coronavirus Dashboard and the number of cases started to climb up like mercury on a hot thermometer. I was anxious due to the fact that my nine-year-old was in the school playing and socializing with his peers with no fear and awareness about the pandemic. I requested the school for a day off […] my fears were realized when the mayor ordered a state lockdown the very next Monday.

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A.C., 52, a writer/editor in Sydney, Australia

“…I spread wide my arms,
stretch heart skyward
breathe deeply under
overarching boughs
and open my eyes
to a small universe
of grey-brown spheres
gently swaying
midst the frenzied
each one so like a
tiny spiky
Death Star—
a perfect
wooden replica
of a COVID-19 cell…”

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J.A., 48, a hospitality team leader in Portland, OR

“I wrote this poem in the month of April, thinking of those I missed but could not see or touch in these first few months of the pandemic. I thought about what it would be like when we reunited, how I might express a memory of how I hope it would be…”

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M.C., 22, a student in New Haven, CT

You should know that my professor, during the last class he would ever teach, asked whether we should sacrifice the lives of the elderly, people like him, so that we can survive. “Yes, I think you should” was his answer And after we said thank you and clapped, and left the meeting one by one, tears swelled up his eyes.

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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