In March 2020, as a pandemic began to ravage our world, writer and professor B. J. Hollars started a collaborative writing project to bridge the emotional challenges created by our physical distancing. Drawing upon Emily Dickinson’s famous poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” Hollars called on Wisconsinites to reflect on their own glimpses of hope in the era of COVID-19. The call resulted in an avalanche of submissions, each reflecting on hope’s ability to persist and flourish, even in the darkest times.
As the one hundred essays and poems gathered here demonstrate, hope comes in many forms: a dad dance, a birth plan, an unblemished banana, a visit from a neighborhood dog, the revival of an old tradition, empathy. The contributors are racially, geographically, and culturally diverse, representing a rough cross section of Wisconsin voices, from truck driver to poet laureate, from middle school student to octogenarian, from small business owner to seasoned writer. The result is a book-length exploration of the depth and range of hope experienced in times of crisis, as well as an important record of what Wisconsinites were facing and feeling through these historic times.