Three writers with Greenbrier County ties have poems included in a new collection of writing, art, and photography titled In the Midst, a COVID-19 Anthology. Sara Crickenberger and Eric Fritzius, both of Lewisburg, and Courtney Susman, of Huntington, were selected for inclusion in the anthology.
Susman and Crickenberger drafted their poems included in the collection as part of a Carnegie Hall online creative writing workshop. The workshop, called Poetry and Prose from the Pandemic, was part of Carnegie Hall’s series of spring online arts education workshops that also included song writing, baking, tie-dye, basket weaving, and beginning harp.
Sandy Tritt, editor of the collection, said writers and artists of every age from six continents contributed original art, photography, poems, essays, fiction, and scripts to create In the Midst, aCOVID-19 Anthology. The works reflect a common humanity beyond age, ethnicity, or location—the raw emotion of being in the midst of a global pandemic with no end in sight is universal—and captured here to share with the world.
Fritzius, whose monologue “Fish Bowl” is included in the anthology, is an audiobook narrator and frequent actor with the Greenbrier Valley Theatre. His short plays have been performed across northern Appalachia and occasionally beyond the Mason-Dixon. He is the author of the story collection A Consternation of Monsters.
Susman, whose poem “Dry” is included in the collection, works for Generation West Virginia and is an adjunct faculty member at Marshall University. She received her MFA in Theatre Performance from The University of Southern Mississippi and BFA in theatre from Marshall University. For nearly nine years, Susman served as the Director of Education at Greenbrier Valley Theatre, where she taught and directed students of all ages. She also served as the Associate Artistic Director. West Virginia South Magazine featured Susman as a Mover and Shaker.
Crickenberger, whose poem “We Pause This Pandemic” was included in the anthology, is President/CEO of Carnegie Hall. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech, where she taught writing for seven years and served as Assistant Director of the Creative Writing Program. She earned her MA in Corporate and Organizational Communication from West Virginia University and BA in Journalism from Marshall University. Crickenberger has published poetry, prose, and journalism in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, anthologies, and textbooks.
People are suffering in so many ways from this unprecedented situation, Tritt said. But the pages of this anthology carry much more than tears. They also show the resilience of the human spirit. Some offer encouragement. Some ways of coping—especially creative ways, such as taking up new hobbies. Others find humor in hair, the quest for toilet paper, and the mandate to “wash your hands.” Some describe new skills or practices that have improved their lives—things they will retain long after the pandemic is over. And many show appreciation to the ones who’ve sacrificed to keep the world moving.
“I’ve always said that when you share your art or your writing, you share your soul,” says Tritt, who is CEO of Inspiration for Writers, Inc. “I hope you are as touched as I have been by these honest, from-the-gut reactions while still in the midst of this historic pandemic. Hopefully, we’ll see our way out of this soon, and this anthology will become a collection to help future generations understand what it was like to endure separation from friends and family, shutdowns of schools, churches and ‘non-essential’ businesses and, of course, the fear and suffering caused by illness and death.”
Copies of In the Midst, a COVID-19 Anthology are available from booksellers, or contact editor Sandy Tritt at IFWeditors@gmail.com.