Creativity in the Time of COVID: More from Past Poetry Contest Winners — Part Two

Our free Poetry Contest is accepting entries through March 1, 2021. We asked past Poetry Contest winners to answer either or both of these questions: How has your writing changed during the pandemic? How have you stayed creative?

Lori Powell won the 2013 Poetry Contest with “To the Bird that Wakes Me,which begins,

Beyond my window,

a stairway floats in the trees.

Three notes up, three down:

your song at first light

climbs to unlock the morning.

Lori wrote this:

“The biggest challenge for me creatively during the pandemic has been the narrowing of my world. I ended up not embracing this new state of being exactly, but trying to use it, to explore it. I will be forever grateful that I shared the first two months of quarantine with the perfect teacher for this creative venture: my six-month-old grandson, who was exploring himself and his world with an energy that ranged from delight and wonder to frustration and fury. As much as possible, I joined him. I tried to really pay attention to sights and sounds and people, to take nothing for granted, and to carry this renewed sensory connection, this focus on the small and the extraordinary-ordinary, into my life and poetry. The pandemic built walls, but attention is boundless.”

Joseph Ross won the 2012 Poetry Contest with “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God,” which includes these lines:

No one would wear cotton

clothing, every cotton field

would be burned in praise

of fourteen

year-old boys

and their teeth.

Here is what Joseph wrote about being creative now:

“These days, I teach facing a computer screen instead of facing humans. Just as it has for many people, the Covid-19 pandemic has upended many of my daily routines. However, there is one routine I’ve deepened, not changed. I need solitude more than ever these days and since moving to Washington, D.C., more than 20 years ago, I have found it at Rock Creek Park. In the pre-pandemic world, I would find my way to Rock Creek Park at least once a week, sometimes more often. Whether to read at a picnic table or hike toward Pulpit Rock, the park offers me its silence, stillness, and solitude. During the pandemic, I find I need those offerings more than ever. These practices: silence, stillness, and solitude are essential for my well-being and my writing.”

Dave Eberhardt won the 2020 Poetry Contest with “After ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and Anton Webern ‘Piano Variations’- Op 27 / Ruhig, fliessend,” which begins…

Your code is to sing the following tone row:

Pale grave stones the color of Indian Pipe…

“Soundless as dots on a disc of snow”

Dave wrote this about being creative now:

…I seem to be getting more interesting dreams  very few pleasant  with recurring not so poetic themes  often concerning important life turning points  moving to a new house, starting a school year, etc.

I think visuals have played a greater role during the pandemic, altho they always have   that is bits of movies or TV  bits from HLN’s true crimes channel or how it really happened with serial killers or from the Discovery Channel re catching drug smugglers or monster fish.

…At 79 one does wonder about being written out  as with maybe Wordsworth, or Rimbaud  who else. I am not worried about that  since I am finding shorter poems all the time   some very local  e.g., “For animal trapped inside/ call 311.”

To learn more about how to enter go to,