Chronicling the Days
Where were you when the pandemic hit? While the shock of COVID-19 was fresh, the Quebec Writers’ Federation sent out a call to its members asking for short descriptions of life under lockdown. The response was immediate and heartfelt. Written and posted online between April 6 and May 26 of 2020, these dispatches—including several from the front lines—are first-person stories of hunkering down, gasping for air, facing challenges, getting through. Mainly written from isolation, the pieces present reading and writing as constant themes: trying, failing, being blocked, and finding renewed purpose. Award-winning author Susan Doherty opens the volume with a dramatic account of her own close call: how the man who saved her life unknowingly put her in danger of infection. Poet Rachel McCrum and writer Crystal Chan, who shepherded the project, reflect in their closing remarks on how the experience created community, and delivered unexpected insight into the power and purpose of chronicling our days. This book is a collaborative effort to document a time like no other. The cover image, a re-imagined detail from a seventeenth-century engraving of a plague doctor wearing elaborate personal protective equipment, links our present to a past in which disease was a decisive player. It is a moment we are not likely to forget anytime soon.