Once a year, the Digging Press Poetry Series publishes work by writers from all over the world. This inaugural series was edited by Ernesto L. Abeytia.
I came to this project out of desperation. My father had recently passed, the 2020 U.S. elections were underway, and we were collectively living in a time of pandemic and uncertainty. I felt hopeless. And the idea of reading poetry, let alone actually writing it, felt daunting and insignificant. But isn’t that when we turn to art the most—when we ourselves feel daunted and insignificant?
With this project, I kept asking myself, what do I want to read? What do I need right now? The answer, of course, was hope. I wanted hope. Or at least something akin to it, something that could renew me, give me something to look forward to. So I reached out to poets I admire, poets whose work I found inspiring, and I asked them for poems that comfort, poems that console, that delight, that reassure or hearten, poems that illumine against the weighing darkness the world seemed to find itself in.
I received a wide range of poems—some that took the “prompt” quite literally and some that were more illusory. Finding the ones that spoke to me was easy—they all spoke to me—but whittling them down to a selection that would eventually culminate in this collection—choosing ones that would speak to everyone—was much more challenging. How does one decide between so many incredible poems? How does one pick what stays and what goes? In the end, I leaned on my heart and guarded close the poems I felt spoke most to my need for inspiration, for hope. These are those poems.
–Ernesto L. Abeytia
Ernesto L. Abeytia is a Basque- and Spanish-American poet and teacher, whose poetry appears or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Fugue, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. His poem “The Port City of Cádiz, Andalucía” was chosen by Vijay Seshadri as the runner-up for Fugue’s 2018 Ron McFarland Prize for Poetry. Ernesto holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University, an MA in English from Saint Louis University, and an MA in Anglo/North-American Cultural and Literary Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain. He currently teaches at Arizona State University.