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Starfish on a Beach
Starfish on a Beach

Starfish on a Beach

The Pandemic Poems


76 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $16.00 (US $16.00) (CA $22.00)

Publication Date: October 2020

ISBN 9781609406158

Rights: WOR

Wings Press (Oct 2020)


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Starfish on a Beach: The Pandemic Poems grew out of the first months of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Randall began writing these poems out of and about the phenomenon, one or three and day. When some were posted on Facebook, readers responded immediately to identify with her take on what we were all experiencing. These poems reflect the fear, isolation, and horror we felt as society -- as we watched public life close down, people were urged to stay distant from one another, wear face masks, and wash our hands frequently. Many of us lost jobs; some of us lost businesses. We saw beloved family members and friends sicken and some of them die. We watched helplessly as sources of income disappeared and the future seemed uncertain. But I also began thinking about other aspects of life through the lens of this situation: Have we brought this plague upon ourselves by our carelessness and lack of accountability to global warming? Does our social organization really meet our needs? Do we have the healthcare we need and deserve? Why are some communities suffering so much more than others? How might we think about changing what doesn’t work? These poems reflect all this and more. They are offered in concern, anger, and also hope for a different future. These poems predate the killing of George Floyd, so the focus remains on health and isolation.

Author Biography

Margaret Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist. She is the author of over 150 books. She is the recipient of the 2019 Haydée Santamaría Medal from Casa de las Americas in Havana, and the prestigious 2019 Poet of Two Hemispheres Prize, presented by Ecuador’s Poesía en Paralelo Cero. In 2017, she was awarded the Medal of Literary Merit by Literatura en el Bravo, Chihuahua, Mexico. The University of New Mexico granted her an honorary doctorate in letters in 2019. In 2020 she was given the George Garrett Award by AWP.In the 1960s, with Sergio Mondragón she founded and co-edited El Corno Emplumado / The Plumed Horn, a bilingual literary journal which for eight years published some of the most dynamic and meaningful writing of an era.From 1984 through 1994 she taught at a number of U.S. universities.Randall was privileged to live among New York’s abstract expressionists in the 1950s and early ’60s, participate in the Mexican student movement of 1968, share important years of the Cuban revolution (1969-1980), the first three years of Nicaragua’s Sandinista project (1980-1984), and visit North Vietnam during the heroic last months of the U.S. American war in that country (1974). Her four children—Gregory, Sarah, Ximena and Ana—have given her ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She has lived with her life companion, the painter and teacher Barbara Byers, for the past 34 years.Upon her return to the United States from Nicaragua in 1984, Randall was ordered to be deported when the government invoked the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act, judging opinions expressed in some of her books to be “against the good order and happiness of the United States.” The Center for Constitutional Rights defended Randall, and many writers and others joined in an almost five-year battle for reinstatement of citizenship. She won her case in 1989. In 1990 Randall was awarded the Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett grant for writers victimized by political repression. In 2004 she was the first recipient of PEN New Mexico’s Dorothy Doyle Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing and Human Rights Activism.Recent non-fiction books by Randall include To Change the World: My Life in Cuba (Rutgers University Press), More Than Things (University of Nebraska Press), Che On My Mind, and Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression (both from Duke University Press). Her most recent nonfiction works are Only the Road / Solo el Camino: Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry (Duke University Press, 2016) and Exporting Revolution: Cuba’s Global Solidarity (Duke University Press, 2017).“The Unapologetic Life of Margaret Randall” is an hour-long documentary by Minneapolis filmmakers Lu Lippold and Pam Colby. It is distributed by Cinema Guild in New York City. Randall’s most recent collections of poetry and photographs are Their Backs to the Sea (2009), My Town: A Memoir of Albuquerque, New Mexico (2010), As If the Empty Chair: Poems for the Disappeared / Como si la silla vacía: poemas para los desaparecidos (2011), Where Do We Go from Here? (2012), Daughter of Lady Jaguar Shark (2013), The Rhizome as a Field of Broken Bones (2013), About Little Charlie Lindbergh and other Poems (2014), Beneath a Trespass of Sorrow (2014), Bodies / Shields (2015), She Becomes Time (2016), The Morning After: Poetry and Prose in a Post-Truth World (2017), and Against Atrocity (2019), all published by Wings Press. Time’s Language: Selected Poems (1959-2018) was published by Wings Press in 2018. Many of Randall’s collections of poetry have been published in Spanish translations throughout the hemisphere. Among Randall’s most recent books, her memoir I Never Left Home: Poet, Feminist, Revolutionary was published by Duke University Press, and a companion volume, My Life in 100 Objects came out from New Village Press, both in 2020.