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#COVID19 International Poetry Swap , March-April 2020!

#COVID19 International Poetry Swap , March-April 2020!

In light of the global Coronavirus pandemic, #BecauseWeveRead is excited to announce our unit on poetry–curated by yourself!

At #BecauseWeveRead, we’re no strangers to digital organizing, thinking critically and curiously, building global solidarity and mutual aid, or using the internet as a way to facilitate resource sharing and radical conversation. And at the current moment, these sorts of conversations, relationship-buliding, and creative thinking seems most urgently needed while our governments continue to fail us. If anything, this global pandemic has made desperately clear that all of these institutions that make up our nation and have been erected in the name of “national security” or to “serve and protect” are nowhere to be found when real threats to our collective safety and security are at stake. The reason the United States for example, is on the verge of collapsing internally is because this nation was not setup to care for its people, but to protect the wealthy — and it’s doing a great job of doing so, given it seems so many of the incredibly limited Coronavirus testing kits have been used to test asymptomatic celebrities. (But it’s fine, because in exchange they are giving us words of solace!!!!!).


So, we will build our own strength through global community-building and tend to our souls with prayer/reflection, community organizing, and poetry.


We’re excited to announce our first-ever #BecauseWeveRead Global Poetry Swap — what is better in this moment than to make a new friend that you cannot meet? Along with acting as a responsible social-distancing practice, a reminder that poetry and art is NOT a privilege but a necessary part of human existence, and method to ground ourselves and heal in a time of global distress, this global poetry swap is an opportunity to take the time to build intentional and international relationships with like-minded people. It’s the best time, if any, to realize how truly connected all of our fates are globally than through a deadly, wildly infectious virus that has spread globally! So let’s use this moment 🙂


To join, simply fill out the form below and within 48 hours after the final deadline (see dates below), you will be e-introduced to your new, randomly selected (no, not like at the airports!) poetry partner who shares your language and age range. You have two weeks to send each other poetry, talk, learn, grow, build, and decide whether or not you’d like to continue to stay in touch. Whether or not you decide to keep in touch with your first paired partner, you can sign up for another round! 


Round 1 pairing deadline: fill out the form below by 11:59pm CST April 1st, 2020

Round 2 pairing deadline: fill out the form (yes, again, sorry!) below between April 2nd, 2020 and 11:59pm CST April 14th, 2020 


We of course always encourage you to share the poetry you either sent or received, along with your thoughts, on social media with the hashtag #BecauseWeveRead to be part of the larger, global conversation!


(Please note: #BecauseWeveRead takes no responsibility for who you are randomly paired with, or the outcomes of said pairing. Be smart! Don’t share passwords or sensitive information about yourself! Though if ya’ll end up getting married we’d appreciate an invite to the wedding.)

So I guess this is like our version of Love is Blind…but digitally….and with poetry…and not boring. (sorry)


While you wait to be paired up, you can start thinking about what poem(s) you want to share, or scroll down to see some of our local chapter leads’ favorite poems!


(if you’re on mobile and having trouble filling out the form, tap this for a mobile-friendly version of the form!)

For questions please email us at and we’ll try to get back to you within 72 hours! 



#BecauseWeveRead will never share or sell your information to any third parties.

Additional Resources

A curated selection of some of our chapter leads’ favorite poems from around the world, below (in no particular order) —


+ Detroit #BecauseWeveRead chapter lead Michael could not pick “one” poem so he put together an entire website of some of his favorites (honestly some of you lot are so extra)

+ “Drone”, Solmaz Sharif

+ “Your Mother’s First Kiss”, Warsan Shire

+ “A Map of Migration Routes”, Philip Metres

+ “The Palace”, Kaveh Akbar

+ “Affirmation”, Assata Shakur

+ “If They Should Come for Us” and “Partition”, Fatimah Asghar

+ “She Died Making Pancakes” and “On a Pair of Young Men in the Underground Parking Garage at fX Sudirman Mall”, Norman Erikson Pasaribu

+ “Life’s Essence” and “Settling the Somali Language” (both in original text & translated to English), Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame ‘Hadraawi’

+ Notebook of a Return to the Native Land (excerpt, translated), Aime Césaire

+ Migritude, (we couldn’t find any excerpts online so here are three other poems by this poet!) Shailja Patel

+ “Enemy of the Sun”, Samih Al-Qasim

+ “Alien Suite”, Safia Elhillo

+ “A Letter to Two Children on the East Bank” (unavailable online), Fadwa Tuqan

“I am with Terrorism” (in original text & translated to English), Nizar Qabbani

+ “A Few Thousand Hopes of the Children of Adam” (in original text & translated to English) and “Moan of the Mirror” (unavailable online), H.E. Sayeh

+ “This is not a Humanising Poem” and Postcolonial Banter, Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan

+ “I Want To Pierce With The Arrows Of My Voice”, Shamim Azad

+ “Eve”, Assetou Xango

+ “Layleen’s Bill (With Revisions)”, Benji Hart

+ “What I Will” and “break (clustered)”, Suheir Hammad


P.S. Our friends at Haymarket & Verso Books are both giving away free “quarantine book” so be sure to take advantage of these while you can!