Clearing the Stage

a suite from / for pandemic times

by Anne Lovering Rounds

This suite of poems was composed during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The suite is divided into three parts: "Prologue," "Specimens," and "Not / Epilogues." Inspired by and intertextualized with selections from Walt Whitman's "Specimen Days," the poems in the "Specimens'" section reflect the initial stages of the pandemic in March and April 2020. The prologue and epilogue sections, while filling the traditional roles of poetic opening and closure, also speak to the nebulous character of the pandemic: the idea that it may always be, in some sense, unknown and unfinished.

The title and genesis of the suite comes from a collaboration with Clearing the Stage, LLC. Founded by violinist Carson Marshall, that project combines guided meditation with music and spoken word. Through podcasts and other aural events, Clearing the Stage, LLC constructs spaces to embrace musical tension and dissonance.

A podcast episode featuring selections of and expansions on these poems is forthcoming.

Cover image: "Screenshot in Memory of My Feelings," ft. Jasper Johns, "In Memory of My Feelings—Frank O'Hara" (1961). Screenshot by the author.


  • publisher place
    New York City