Shelter-in-Place Poem #4: If John Donne saw you maskless in public

At a time when the accountability we all have to each other is especially obvious, we can’t help but imagine what 17th-century metaphysical poet John Donne might make of the holiday anti-maskers among us (yes, Kirk Cameron, we’re talking about you).



No Mask is an Island*
No mask is an island entire of itself; every N-95
Is a piece of the shield, a part of the main;
If thy bandanna be dangling below thy nose, the patrons of Safeway
are less safe, as well as if a cashier spit-talked in thy face,
As well as if any manner of thy friends or of thine
Hocked loogies in thy eggnog; any unworn mask imperils me,
Because I am involved in humankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
The nasal swab probes; it probes for thee (and me).
*original at the bottom!

Donne was right.

No one is an island.

This pandemic has shown us how linked we all really are. That’s why we took a risk eight months ago, pivoting to offer virtual events instead of going dark. With so many feeling so alone, we wanted to play a part in lifting people up.

Since the early months of the pandemic, we’ve joined with some of today’s wisest and most inspiring authors to reach out, across the gulf of fear and anxiety and uncertainty, and hold people’s hands in the dark.

But no festival is an island, either. We lost a lot of revenue from canceling our in-person fest. Our budget is downsized, but we’re still struggling to keep our heads above water, even as we’re putting together some amazing 2021 events for you.

Can you reach out a hand to us?

*No Man is an Island (1624)
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Donne’s original rings truer this year than it ever has, doesn’t it?

We’re keeping the faith for a safer, kinder, and more connected 2021 for us all!