Different Voices

I have been blessed to be a part of a massive creative project.

Browsing through Lit Hub Daily last week (LOVE it like chocolate!), I read about “Social Distance, Haiku, and You,” a collage project sound artist Alan Nakagawa was commissioned to do by The Orange County Museum of Art. Folks were invited to submit written and recorded versions of their original haikus with their perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic as the theme. The submission deadline was April 16. Nakagawa would create a written compilation and an audio collage of the haikus and make it available on SoundCloud on April 23. Mission completed! He received and compiled over 500 haikus!

As a writer of personal essays primarily, I was excited by the prospect of trying my hand at haiku and adding my voice (even if it was only 17 syllables) to the audio record of this historic time. Inspired by traditional haikus that hone in on snapshots in nature, I focused my verse on the bird, a phoebe, building a pretty little nest on the drainpipe under the eave in a quiet corner of our house.

I used the phoebe to illustrate how I as a mother (and, at least for the foreseeable future, no longer a substitute teacher) am focusing more on my home and maintaining it as a sanctuary for my family, the people I care about most. I watch as this bird uses what she’s got–her beak and her feet–to carry one twig at a time, one bit of moss or mud at a time and tamp it down to fashion a comfortable abode for her budding family. There is also a nod to my husband and all the other teachers who are working through facilitated distance learning. The bird is teaching me how to lean into this high calling of mothering. Of course, it is distance learning because I watch through glass. (Or it could be through the screen, and then you could liken that to the computer screens our teachers and students have been peering through for weeks. However you want to pursue the metaphor is fine with me!)

After much wrestling with words and at least three drafts (it is so much more difficult to write short!), here is my contribution to the collage project:

As she builds her nest

Phoebe teaches mothercraft

Distantly–through glass

Here is Nakagawa’s finished work. The whole thing is over an hour long, but you can listen to parts at a time. (I wondered if I could find my own little self in the mix, but mine is the third piece in Part E.) It is powerful to hear people’s different perspectives on our current situation. And it’s so beautiful to hear all of these voices together. I am thankful to Nakagawa for his work on this. It is a gift.

(As this was a project on perspective, I thought it fitting to post this link for the Five Minute Friday prompt today on: PERSPECTIVE.)

About Amy Nicholson

A busy wife and mother pausing to ponder the beauty and complexity of life and share it with words.
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2 Responses to Different Voices

  1. How cool is the project
    that brings the hope of spring
    to a winter’d world.


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