Writing in The Time of COVID-19 :
A Review of Carla Rachel Sameth’s What Is Left
By Corinne Shearer
There is an inherent risk in writing so explicitly about a moment in time. First, there is a question of longevity. Will future readers feel alienated by the specificity of the subject matter? Second, by the time of publication, will current readers really want to be transported back to this time? Admittedly even this reader felt some resistance returning to these months in 2020. There is something particularly depressing about the notion of the pandemic’s “early days” as mentioned in the title of a list poem, “Pandemic Pacing: 20 Steps in the Early Days.” This designation, “early days,” seems to have lost its meaning long ago; first referring to a period of weeks in March, then to a lost summer, and now we might, perhaps, count the pandemic’s early days as all of 2020. The phrase feels distinctly melancholy as we have yet to really reach the other side of the pandemic. To label something, to tuck it neatly under a heading and file it away, promises a kind of closure that is still denied us. Worse, it reminds of our collective naivety then; when there still seemed to be a possibility that we might “get back” to our lives as they were, that all this suffering could evaporate just as suddenly as it came. This was, of course, not the case.
live the pain of impending
loss, our Black sons
a daily target. Give
instructions. Warn: danger
constant, your skin
in this world. How…”
Corinne Shearer is OyeDrum Magazine’s Book Review Editor and an interdisciplinary artist based in New York City. She’s currently completing her MA in English Literature at The City College of New York. Corinne works predominantly in dance and theater as a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist. She’s been featured as an artist-in-residence at The Triple Nine Festival and named “Director’s Choice” at Spoke The Hub’s Winter Follies. She is also the founder and curator of Spitball, a performance series for artists of varying disciplines. She is currently accepting published or soon-to-be published books for review in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
What is Left is out now. To purchase a copy, click here.