A local writer has spearheaded the creation of a collection of stories, poems, and articles, all reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Jagjeet Sharma lives in Kemptville and has authored several collections of poetry, including Nature’s Subtle Seductions (2018), Fragments (2019), and Raindrops (2020). She is also the founder of the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum, which has the goal of bridging the gap between mainstream and ethnic media.
Jagjeet first had the idea for the anthology back in May, when the whole country was in lockdown and she was unable to see her children or grandchildren. “It was an idea that was floating in my mind and I said: well, instead of floating in my mind, I might as well put pen to paper and let’s get going, kind of thing.”
She put out a call for submissions on the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum Facebook page, which caught the interest of June Coxon, the president of the Media Club of Ottawa. “She said they’d like to get on board as well,” Jagjeet remembers. “I said – well, that’s marvelous. We can collaborate on the project, and why not? We’ll get more writers.”
Jagjeet and June cast a wide net looking for writers who might want to contribute to the anthology. June had members of the Media Club of Ottawa to submit pieces, and Jagjeet put the call out to her network, posting on the Ottawa Independent Writer’s page, and the North Grenville Writers Circle group as well. They got 36 submissions, from mostly local writers, and used them all to create the anthology. “COVID-19 Chronicles: Reflections on the 2020 Pandemic” was published at the end of November. The 100-page collection is full of beautifully written pieces, that reflect all the feelings and emotions which came with the COVID-19 pandemic. They speak on topics like loss, social issues, aboriginal spirituality, and hope. Some of the pieces are sombre in nature, while others are more humorous, which has been necessary for many to survive the realities of 2020.
Two of the published pieces came from members of the North Grenville Writers Circle. In her poem, “Silently”, Jenn Pretty writes about the juxtaposition between world events in 2020 and farm life. Anna Myatt reflects on the early days of the pandemic, the loss, and its slow progression over many months in her article, “2020: The Year that Wasn’t”.
The anthology is a limited edition, with only 100 copies printed. Jagjeet is extremely pleased with how it turned out, and she believes it will be an important keepsake for future generations. A copy has been submitted to the Ottawa Archives to be kept as documented evidence of COVID-19. Most of the copies have already been distributed; but Jagjeet says she still has a few that are available for sale for $10 each. A copy can also be found at the North Grenville Public Library. For more information, or to request a copy, email Jagjeet at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jagjeet’s portion of sales will be donated to the Ottawa Heart Institute.