After losing her husband, musician Alan Merrill (writer of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”) to Covid-19, Joanna Lisanti told a reporter, “People don’t even know what it’s like to grieve alone. You have no one to hug, no one to touch; no one can help you. That’s the difference with this epidemic. That’s what this virus is doing. It’s not just punishing the people who die; it’s punishing the people who are left.”
Lisanti has come to recognize what many of us have: grief is the shadow epidemic afflicting us.
With all of the physical work that must be done to survive this protracted period of quarantine, many of us are unable to sit down with our more complicated emotions, sift through them, or put them down on paper.
In this class, we will try to release and ritualize our grief in writing. Working off selected readings about loss and mourning (“On Witness and Respair” by Jesmyn Ward, "Notes on Grief" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Obit by Victoria Chang, Blue Nights by Joan Didion, and Funeral Diva by Pamela Sneed) and prompts inspired by the readings, we will produce writing that honors our own experiences and perhaps helps to make them more livable.
This class takes place remotely online via Zoom. Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions.
Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and native Clevelander. She is the author of the poetry collections Ariel in Black (2015) and The Vagina Analogues (2020), and the creator of BLAX MUSEUM, an annual performance showcase dedicated to honoring notable black figures in American history and culture. Michelle’s favorite writers include Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Sylvia Plath, Terrance Hayes, and Saeed Jones.