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Viral Verse: Poetry of the Pandemic

By Julie Horner

Viral Verse: Poetry of the Pandemic is a spirited anthology of 70 poems that explore the “beauty and terror of human experience” during the shelter-at-home over the first two months of the pandemic. Cathy Warner, a former minister at Boulder Creek Methodist Church developed the idea to capture this particular moment in words as “antidote to the daily news cycle” and to “carve out space for worry and welcome, pain and possibility, humor and hope, fear and faith, nature and nurture.” Boulder Creek resident Michel Lauren is one of 24 poets from across the United States who contributed to the collection.

“On the Ides of March we started writing,” Lauren said. “We’re still writing to each other; it’s been 47 days of putting this thing together” It was Cathy who planted the seed. “Cathy started sending prompts out, inviting people she knew to collaborate. I felt very accepted, very free. It was a very positive collaboration.”

Lauren is a musician and preschool teacher and works with Easter Seals to facilitate learning for kids with special needs. “I love working with children.” During the shelter-at-home she’s been trying to maintain a semblance of order, syncing her day to the kids’ former schedules. “I’m used to chasing children.” For her part in the book, Lauren said, “I really had to sink myself into my writing. The book: this was my church.”

Lauren grew up in Berkeley and has lived in her home on the hill in Boulder Creek since the 70s. “I lean a little bit pagan, and I embrace everything that agrees with me.” From Ukulele Club open mic via Zoom to writing poetry, days spent at home have been both peaceful and revolutionary. 

Lauren describes the effort and effect of Viral Verse: Poetry of the Pandemic: “It’s the sense of a shared community looking for solutions rather than looking for problems. We’re practicing conscientious sheltering and doing what comes naturally anyway.” Lauren’s poem in the book is called Jeopardy.

“The book reminds me that my art is my work. This is my test to see how I do in retirement…I still get goosebumps. Music, art, and poetry…may the rest of my life be spent doing that.”

Viral Verse Poetry of the Pandemic

The book is available at

Visit Cathy Warner’s website:

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