call for submissions:
ROAM 2 Creative Journal
Emotions and the pandemic
Where we have been, what we have felt, where we go next
No, you may not leave the quarantine room. The plague is out there. It would be too dangerous for you, though not for me. We do not have that type of microbe on our planet.
Margaret Atwood, “Impatient Griselda”, The New York Times Decameron Project, 2020.
What we do know now, better
than we used to, is the worth
of that honeycomb of hours
spent laughing and talking –
the sunwashed, unwasted hours
of human contact.
Moya Cannon, “Delete Contact Card”, Collected Poems, 2021.
The pandemic, it could have been science fiction, but it wasn’t. The virus was out there and all around the world we were powerless in the fight against it, subject to contagion, and in the best-case scenario, confined to our homes to stay safe.
Being locked at home, unable to see friends and family, unable to go to the office or out for a meal, forced to wear a mask and use sanitizers and disinfectants whenever leaving the house, became our new normal. Looking out onto empty streets from bedroom windows and observing, even missing, the absence of urban scuffle. Turning on the evening news just to bear witness to the numbers of infected constantly rising and dying. Day after day desires were numbed, projects adjourned, and emotions intensified. The days that rolled into weeks and months felt unreal, hard to explain, like a cruel science fiction film about a plague that rapidly spreads across the globe.
Many experienced feelings of bewilderment, loss, anxiety, sorrow, loneliness, fear, and isolation. People we know lost their jobs and were separated from loved ones. To add to the whirl of confusion and feelings, the time at home made us increasingly aware of global change that has been causing natural disasters at an alarming rate. We remain aware of our responsibility to the planet, yet feel powerless to help. On the other hand, the concern about family, friends, and neighbours and the desire to see the situation improve also encouraged feelings of hope, comfort, care, longing and gratitude. We may have reached out to our immediate communities, helped with food banks and deliveries. Time to get to know our locale, to go out walking, to see nature, animals, the wild species that are part of our world was accommodated into routines. As was the curiosity about learning new skills— whether music, cooking, languages, or charity work.
Philosopher Axel Honneth has written of the “relational turn” (1995) in social and political theory, the need for affective ties, how individual experience can be meaningful only in the context of other individuals. At the same time eco-philosopher Donna Haraway has spoken of the need for a new human worlding with animals, geographies, temporalities, of “learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present” taking on “repons-ability for a damaged earth” (2016).
As in Boccaccio’s Decameron (1351) the pandemic that affects us all can be turned around creatively to offer rich opportunities for storytelling. For our second creative journal ROAM 2 we invite you to explore and relate creatively emotions you experienced most intensely during the pandemic, or incidents or objects which struck you. For, despite the sorrow, loss and confusion, the sharing of stories keeps us alive, helps us to look forward to better, healthier and more normal days, and draws insight and perspective from these experiences.
We welcome the submission of poems, short prose, images and film on the general theme of emotions felt most intensively during the pandemic. You might like to explore the following categories in your creative pieces:
- different feelings and emotions (fear, hope, sorrow, love, anger…)
- relationships near and far (loss, nostalgia, longing, insights…)
- health and illness (pain, confusion, sadness, anger, acceptance…)
- living and working on-line (boredom, loneliness, comfort…)
- home and the community (care, responsibility, selflessness, kindness…)
- disadvantaged communities (anxiety, powerlessness, survival…)
- nature — animals, fauna, environments (relief, communion, joy…)
- global and climate change (shock, disgust, guilt, fury, grief…)
We look forward to receiving your creative submissions (poems 1 page, prose 1,000 words, images X 3, film 3 minutes). They should be sent to email@example.com by 12 December 2021. We will advise of our acceptance by 31 January 2022. We hope to publish our second creative journal ROAM 2 during winter 2021/22.
If you have any queries, please contact Jean Page and Margarida Martins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROAM Creative Journal - https://www.rhome.letras.ulisboa.pt/en/roam/spring-summer-2021
Representations of Home (RHOME) - https://www.rhome.letras.ulisboa.pt/en/
University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES) - http://ulices.letras.ulisboa.pt/en/mission-statement/