MEETINGS & EVENTS
Quarantined at the Keyboard:
An evening of playing with writing prompts
with your host, Fran Severn
Who’da thunk it? When we started Q@K last year, we thought it was a necessary but lighthearted diversion, a way for those of us feeling a bit isolated to get together – at least virtually – and have a little online fun. I thought we’d be back to ‘normal’ by the fall. This sort of insightful prediction is the reason why I have never won the lottery or done well at the racetrack. I certainly never thought that the witty intro to the monthly writing prompts would be outdated and in need of updating.
But here we are. On the plus side we are down to the last 12 packs of toilet paper we scrambled to buy last March. (The bruises suffered when the elderly pensioner rammed me with her walker in an effort to grab that last package of Charmin’ have long since healed…) We have mastered new technologies, becoming as fluent in ZOOM-ese as the average 8-year-old. The money we’ve saved in commuting now goes to the monthly fees for a dozen or so streaming services, although our lofty plans to watch Metropolitan Opera every night has downgraded to binge-watching Are You Being Served. We’ve started (and stopped) new hobbies, learned to bake sourdough, finished the repairs, renovations, and redecoration projects that we planned for years. WFH is now used as both a description and a curse for our new lifestyle. And while we planned to start a fitness program and emerge from the cocoon of quarantine with a new body and level of fitness, we’ve more often succumbed to the lure of the comfort foods of pizza, mac and cheese, and – thank God it’s Girl Scout cookie time – Thin Mints! We have a collection of fashionable face masks for every social and business occasion, while our work wardrobe is divided into ‘daily’ jeans and sweat pants and, well, more ‘daily’ jeans and sweat pants.
And while the introduction of the vaccine means we might be getting ahead of this virus, staying close to home is still the recommended standard routine. Which means that our free writing time remains. Some of us have used this interlude to begin new projects. We’ve researched and written, taken notes and conducted interviews, scoured YouTube and the Internet for relevant documentaries. We’ve written outlines, first drafts, second drafts, scenes, dialogs, notes, chapters. Maybe even have finished a book or two.
Yet we’re still feeling… alone. And flat. And in need of fresh ideas and inspiration. And company!
So here we are for another go-round of Quarantined at the Keyboard, 2021 Edition! Embrace your inner Marx Brothers, Patrick McManus, Ayn Rand, Barbara Kingsolver or Alice Walker and let your imagination loose.
CAROL PARRIS KRAUSS Carol Parris Krauss is new to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia after living in Fort Lauderdale for 25 years. This mother, teacher, poet enjoys tackling current subjects and layering them with references to nature. In 2018, she was recognized by the University of Virginia Press as a Best New Poet (which is ironic, because she was 60 years old at the time). She is a proud Clemson graduate, a bad gardener, and a reader for Full House Literary Magazine. Recent publications include, Anti-Heroin Chic, Black Bough, Bear Creek Gazette, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She has work forthcoming in Broadkill Review.
Virginia Crawford is a long-time teaching artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. She has co-edited two anthologies: Poetry Baltimore, poems about a city and Voices Fly, An Anthology of Exercises and Poems from the Maryland State Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Program from CityLit Press. She earned degrees in Creative Writing from Emerson College, Boston, and The University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Her book Touch appeared in 2013 from Finishing Line Press. Her latest book, questions for water, was recently released from Apprentice House Press. She writes and lives in Baltimore with her family.
STEVE BELLIN-OKA Steve Bellin-Oka’s first book of poems, Instructions for Seeing a Ghost, won the 2019 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of North Texas Press in 2020. He is also the winner of the Blue Mountain Review/Southern Collective Experience LGBQT Poetry Prize for his forthcoming chapbook, Tell Me Exactly What You Saw and What You Think It Means. His two other chapbooks are Dead Letter Office at North Atlantic Station (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017) and Out of the Frame (Walls Divide Press, 2019). He earned his M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. He has taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Mississippi, St. Norbert College, and Eastern New Mexico University. He is currently a Tulsa Artist Fellow and Research Fellow at the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. His other honors include the Eli Cantor Fellowship from Yaddo and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. He was the 2019 recipient of the Poets-in-the-Parks fellowship from the National Parks Arts Foundation. He lives in Tulsa with his husband, their dog, and three cats.
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