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Arts & Culture

Poetry event about COVID-19 coming to Bethlehem this weekend

Olivia Marble
Bethlehem-based poet Latrice Young, stage name Distinctly Unique, performs at the opening event for the Restoring Petals exhibition at the Allentown Art Museum. Denson will perform at Saturday's event, Restoring Petals: A Live Poetry Experience.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — An Allentown Art Museum exhibit is expanding its reach to Bethlehem.

"Restoring Petals: A Live Poetry Experience" will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem.

The free event is a way to celebrate the poetry featured in “Restoring Petals,” an immersive and interactive exhibition at Allentown Art Museum that reflects on the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and honors those who died from it.

'Restoring Petals' Exhibition
Olivia Marble
The entrance to the 'Restoring Petals' exhibition is decorated with paper sunflowers, which were made by about a thousand people during various workshops.

Creator Chloe Cole-Wilson said she wants "Restoring Petals" to become a “Lehigh Valley-wide exhibition.”

“We want this to be an opportunity to invite the whole Greater Lehigh Valley into the conversation around mental health, and COVID-19, and public health and vaccinations and all those things,” Chloe-Cole Wilson said.

“And so this is just a start of that.”

"Restoring Petals" is presented by Basement Poetry, a performance arts nonprofit that creates spaces for people to process topics such as racism, LGBTQ issues and more.

Cole-Wilson said the content of the event may not be suitable for those under 16 years old.

The performers

Performers at Sunday’s event include poets Robin Gow, Nia Watson, Distinctly Unique, Magnus Mateo, Dominque Shelby, Luke Boyd and the members of Spittin’ Truth.

Spittin' Truth is a poetry collaborative based out of Dieruff High School that holds poetry events and puts out a yearly print magazine called Armchair Ghosts.

“This pandemic has affected our lives so deeply."
"Restoring Petals" creator Chloe Cole-Wilson

Cole-Wilson said all of the poetry will be related to the themes of loss, community, connection and home.

“This pandemic has affected our lives so deeply,” Cole-Wilson said. “And so a lot of the poetry will be either written during 2020, or about some of the things that we've lost and were affected by COVID-19 and the pandemic.”

"Restoring Petals" will stay at Allentown Art Museum until June. The museum has free admission and parking.

Cole-Wilson said she will highlight a different part of the exhibition each month until its closes.

'Restoring Petals' Exhibition
Olivia Marble
A collage in the 'Restoring Petals' exhibition, with a QR code to a podcast episode interviewing Michelle Reilly Faust.

Next month, she will highlight the podcast series she made, interviewing people about their experiences during and after the height of the pandemic.

In April, Cole-Wilson will hold an event for adults to come together and process their feelings about the pandemic.

And in May or June, there will be a closing event for the exhibition.