Poems of a Pandemic – The Arapahoe Pinnacle


Flying Under the Dog Star: Poems of a Pandemic
Catherine Winograd
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Memories of the initial global lockdown have become hazy and distant in the two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Singularly nostalgic photographs of empty streets, messages about nature slowly returning to evacuated towns, and videos of apartment balcony DJs blasting “Caramelldansen” all elicit feelings of unification over the current discontent at the regard to vaccine and mask mandates and their ongoing debates. Life, oddly enough, has largely recovered from those days; cars flood the streets and deer have resumed their reclusive retreat into the deep woods. However, recalling those moments of loneliness and eerie silence, Kathryn Winograd explores the calmer, less documented side of the pandemic.

“Flying Beneath the Dog Star” is a memoir of the struggles of the early days of the pandemic, whose free verse shines a light reflecting isolation and a sense of being trapped.

“Last night I stood alone in the deepening twilight, in silence, as if I could rename every starburst I didn’t recognize,” Winograd wrote in “Waking after the Pink Moon and Eight Hundred Dead,” ruminating on a weary night sparked by dawning worry and worry for the days — and years, now — to come.

Winograd meanders in floaty, dreamlike verses as she guides the reader on a journey through the numbing realization of isolation at the onset of the crisis. Beneath the words featured also lurks an inspiring allegory of now overthrown cliches – the caged bird singing for freedom and flight now becomes humanity, while the ducks gliding freely under the boughs of the branches inspire a familiar wanderlust and a world lost at a closed door, only to be seen through the stained glass.

Although a prolific and expert poet, “Flying Beneath the Dog Star” challenged Winograd by deviating from her usual style. For this collection, she adopts free verse, a lyrical form of poetry. Inspiration came from authors such as James Wright and Stanley Kunitz, whose work she imitated in her own verse and form.

Winograd sought to complete a poem each day during the month of April, inspired by the National Poetry Month project. Many of their promptings spurred his direction, and his poems follow a near-chronological order of life in mankind’s own mandated captivity.

Captured on the pages are the stories of memory and nostalgia, longing but also longing for an end to the pandemic. Caught inside a world that seems to have stopped, even though everyone else is carrying on. Past innocence and childhood wonder come to life on the pages, filling the heart with memories of sprinting through summer fields and aimless wandering adventures.

To remember those youthful joys, finding kindred spirits in the high flight of crows while still locked in the familiar cage of home, Winograd delves into a memory that will be easily forgotten over time by many, yet lingers as a undocumented part of individual life. In her book, she manages to portray a familiar struggle, while tapping into the natural yearning for the good old days.

“Flying Beneath the Dog Star” may be Winograd’s own experience at the start of the pandemic, but there is a commonality to what humanity has endured during the lockdown. His words, while personal, reflect a unique shared experience of loneliness, loneliness, and a desire to return to the norm. Winograd reminds readers that all over the world was this shared isolation; a unifying experience that elicits empathy with each other, if only duly considered.

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