Since 2010, Community Building Art Works has been building community in military hospitals through workshops led by professional artists. In that time, we’ve learned that more voices make for stronger community. In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we moved our workshops at Walter Reed and Ft Belvoir online and opened them up to everyone, regardless of military connection. At “the altar of the laptop,” as Army veteran and community member Anne Barlieb calls it, people from around the world met weekly to write and cry and laugh, to hold one another across space. The poems included in this anthology are written by established authors and workshop participants, some folks being both: members of our community—writers of our time. All profits help our programs grow.

We Were Not Alone: A Community Building Art Works Anthology

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“When I first met Seema and learned of the work that Community Building Art was doing, my soul leapt with recognition. Writing is the Shaman’s call, leading us inward, dreaming in feverish states, to find the closed places, and beckon in the light. I take comfort in the inextinguishable knowledge that lives in each of us. And what you will read in these pages is the same miracle. You are witnessing the healing of souls.”

–Jewel, from the Introduction

“We grieve. Each week there are new reasons to grieve. And we live. We make more and more space. Annie Dillard writes: “There was never a more holy age than ours, and never a less.” The darkness deepens, and we pass more candles. And all along the way, people help. By buying this book, you are helping. By reading these honest accounts, by writing your own, you are passing a candle. We are not alone.”

Seema Reza, from the Afterword

Featuring contributions by:

Jewel | Dilruba Ahmed | Hari Alluri | Mahogany L. Browne | Brendan Constantine | Tarfia Faizullah | Ross Gay | Aracelis Girmay | Donika Kelly | Faisal Mohyuddin | Yesenia Montilla | Cynthia Dewi Oka | Seema Reza | Jon Sands | Seema Yasmin | and more