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What We Learned While Alone: Global Voices Speak to the Pandemic

Monday, October 24, 2022, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

NAS Building, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Fred Kavli Auditorium

Free. Photo ID and proof of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination are required. Masks are optional.

This is an in-person event with an option to watch on Livestream.


A Global Pandemic. The numbers are staggering. How do we understand the enormity of it all? How do we heal? How do we connect with one another?

You are invited to a unique theatrical event that combines spoken word, music (guitar, banjo, melodica), movement, and digital dialogue to create an innovative interactive experience, culminating in a poem created with performers and audience that celebrates what we have learned from our loss, what we praise, and what we hope for the future. 

The program features performances by Calil “JUST C.O.S.” Cage, Bryce Evan Lewis, and Eric Schmiedl, a special appearance via video by poet Naomi Shihab Nye, and a post-show conversation with playwright/producer David Hassler, collaborating artist Tyler Meier, National Endowment for the Humanities chair Shelly Lowe, and pediatrician and National Academy of Medicine member Elena Fuentes-Afflick. The program is stage managed by Tiffany Trapnell and co-produced by John Morris. Movement is directed by Ambre Emory-Maier.

In March 2021, the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, Arizona, launched the interactive website for the Global Vaccine Poem project, inviting anyone to share experiences of the pandemic and vaccination through their own poetic reflection. Thousands of everyday people responded from India to Ireland, from Maine to Hawai’i. In the spring of 2022, an anthology of these poems, Dear Vaccine: Global Voices Speak to the Pandemic, was published by The Kent State University Press. Now the conversation continues through this premiere at the National Academy of Sciences.

This event is organized by Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University and the University of Arizona Poetry Center with support from the Ohio Arts Council.

This is an in-person event with the option to watch the Livestream. A government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license or passport) and proof of up-to-date vaccination against COVID-19 per CDC guidelines are required. Masks are optional. For more details about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s operating status and COVID-19 vaccination policy, visit this webpage.

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