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. We formed the United Against Silence Collective, made up of the extraordinary poets and artists who lent their time and shared their wisdom. We read poems that inspired us, poems that offered an opening for us to begin to find words for our collective and individual griefs, joys, and transformations. 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 members of the collective and members of the community. They are the poems that were essential to our survival, poems that built a growing online family and community of support. The poems contained here reminded us that We Were Not Alone. We hope they remind you, also, that you are not alone.