Denton, Texas – Even a pandemic cannot stop the Hai Table poets of Good Samaritan – Denton Village.
When stay-at-home orders shut down their meeting place, the writers shared poems over email. Not all of their work is about the pandemic, but it has been a theme lately.
Now, they have assembled the COVID - themed poems into a new booklet titled Virtual Hai Table Verses and the Pandemic. The collection is an example of the kinds of creative opportunities that the location would like to offer to more residents.
Exploring new chapters in life
Donor support fuels diverse programs at Denton Village that give residents a chance to keep exploring new chapters in life, said Laura Wells, director of resource development.
“The arts give residents an opportunity to build community,” Wells said. “And a strong community builds a strong sense of well-being.”
That is certainly true for the poets featured in the latest collection. The group includes six residents who range in age from 70 to 90-plus years. Writing is helping them express both the funny and the frustrating parts of living through a pandemic.
“I isolated the pandemic-related poems as they somewhat reflect what we are now going through,” said Jeanne Baldridge, who serves as the group’s unofficial editor.
Profile of a Pandemic (haiku)
by Jeanne Baldridge
The streets are empty,
The groceries stores are full,
and boredom sets in.
Lunch-time fun goes virtual
The writers group began in 2012 when Helen Leath, retired English professor, moved to Denton Village. The initial meeting spot, a round table in the dining room, was dubbed the “Hai Table,” which is where their publications get their names.
At first, they wrote only for their lunch companions. They quickly amassed 544 haikus covering more than 70 topics. That’s when they published their first work, Hai Table Haikus – Lunch Time Fun. Two more collections followed in 2018 and 2019
Then COVID-19 hit.
“Dining room Hai Table meetings were replaced with a virtual Hai Table,” said Baldridge. She collects the verses over email, adds the illustrations and sends a weekly email with everyone’s submissions. Some of the poets take a light-hearted approach; one poem is a jump-roping chant that counts down the days the jumper will have to shelter in place. Others are more serious.
“Staying up until three or four a.m. / Doesn't seem to matter a bit,” writes Leath in her poem, “Transition.” “With the pandemic social distancing / I've nowhere to go, nowhere to be, no schedule to fit.”
Donors make a difference
Good Samaritan – Denton Village and its sister campus, Lake Forest Village, are taking part in North Texas Giving Day on Sept 17. Wells says that their goal is to raise more than $20,000 for programming like poetry.
“We’re focusing on programming this fall because we want people to know how much it makes a difference, especially now,” Wells said. “Donors could provide the margin of excellence so that we can expand offerings like this on our campus.”
You can give online to support programs for residents at Good Samaritan – Denton Village or Good Samaritan – Lake Forest Village. Be sure to follow our Facebook event page for more North Texas Giving Day stories.