A Pandemic Poetry Reading with Laureate David Holper


When the city council appointed David Holper Eureka’s first poet laureate in 2019, it was supposed to last a year. Then again, a lot of things turned out differently than planned in 2020 and the term was extended. You can watch Holper’s live reading via Zoom and on Public Access Channel 8 on Tuesday, April 6 at 2 p.m.

  • Photo by Eric Furman
  • David Holper

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Humboldt, Holper has responded by helping create outlets and community spaces through poetry. The stated mission of the Poetry on the Edge Facebook group he started describes itself as being “about living on the edge of the continent, on the edge because of the crazy pandemic we’re living in, and because words give us a way to explore both the shadows and the light.” Taking that exploration to other mediums, he’s also helped bring about a show of poetry and art at the Brenda Tuxford Gallery and is working on the upcoming David Josiah Lawson Oration Festival.

Holper also worked with Anne Frick to assemble and publish Behind the Mask, an anthology of local poets’ work created about and during the pandemic, which you can download here. As for what he’s been working on himself, his subject matter has shifted over the events of the last year.

Watching other poets, particularly Fricke, address the pandemic in the Poetry on the Edge group inspired Holper to take it on as well. “It’s sort of the confluence of the pandemic as disease and some of the political issues that arose,” including the Black Lives Matter movement. Holper maintains the global view that previously yielded poems about non-English words for emotions and experiences, now turning his eye to the pandemic’s impact around the world. One poem was born of reading about a Swedish restaurant for one, where food comes to a single table in a field via a basket on a cable; another came after reading about a pan flute orchestra left stranded by flight restrictions at a castle in Berlin surrounded by wolves.

Like many, Holper’s had more time at home and he’s spent it writing. So far, a whole chapbook has grown out of his pandemic experience. You can hear much of it on April 6 and there are plans for re-broadcast on Public Access TV later on.

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