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Poetry Friday: Needlework In The Pandemic

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Aeka Joshi
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In this week’s Poetry Friday segment, we hear from one of our regular contributors, 14-year-old Aeka Joshi.  She’s at home with her family in Flagstaff, adjusting to online school and working on her sewing skills. Aeka says textile art is a tradition among the women in her family and, for her, it’s a way to find peace amid the chaos. Here is Aeka Joshi with her original poem Needlework In The Pandemic.

AJ:  I haven’t been sewing a lot lately since about the start of 8th grade. I was really big on it when I was younger because I thought it was cool. I’ve just kind of fallen off the band wagon recently. And when this started I had a lot more free time on my hands, and I picked up some more sewing. I got a bunch of plastic canvasses – embroidery canvasses – stuff like that, and I just started creating.

It gave me a sense of purpose, and it made me feel calm. There’s something incredibly satisfying about having something physical that you can create a sense of control and a sense of satisfaction that you can do this one thing.

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Credit Aeka Joshi
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Needlework by Aeka Joshi

I got the idea for this poem when I was working on a sewing piece. I think I was making a stuffed animal or something. The news was on, and I was listening to all of these numbers about how many people had died, how many new cases, and about how a lot of people were celebrating holidays alone, isolated. And I really kind of thought about how it wasn’t affecting me, and I felt guilty at first that I was kind of enjoying this time at home with my family. And I realized that part of the reason I was being able to enjoy that and I wasn’t going stir crazy was that I was sewing and doing needlework and embroidery. It helped me have a sense of peace during this.

Women have been doing this for centuries. My grandmother on my mom’s side and on my dad’s side, actually, they both did a lot of needlework and crafting during difficult times. My maternal grandfather was in a war, and my grandma would do embroidery, and batik and things like that when he was away. I think it helped her find peace, as well.

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Credit Aeka Joshi
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Needlework of the San Francisco Peaks by Aeka Joshi

My poem is called Needlework In The Pandemic:

A hundred lives lost

For every stitch I make

an army of tiny lines

marching across the cloth

Heedless of the world

Unspooling outside my little bubble

I join the ranks of women

in the background of history

needles flashing

In the light of the burning world

Creating

In the midst of destruction

Beauty

In the midst of ugliness

An orderly peace

neat rows

Making a shelter

In the chaos

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.

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Gillian came to KNAU in 2001 as a freelance reporter. Her first story won an Arizona Associated Press Award. Since then, Gillian has won more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting, writing, editing and documentary work. She served as KNAU’s local Morning Edition anchor for many years before becoming News Director and Managing editor in 2013. When she’s not working, Gillian likes to spend time in the natural world with her dog, Gertie. She is an avid hiker, skier, swimmer, and reader.