Pondering the pandemic

The Covid Monologues M.V. encourages writers to share their stories.

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The act of writing — whether it be a novel or just a personal journal — can be a therapeutic undertaking. And we can all certainly use a little mental health boost these days. That’s part of the reason that writer and educator Moira Convey Silva has launched a project called the Covid Monologues M.V.

The tagline for the initiative is “a project to nourish, inspire and connect,” and, as Silva explains, “so much of it is about the connection and the comfort, and trying to give people some perspective.”

The Covid Monologues project is made up of a number of different pieces. This past fall, Silva invited Islanders to submit monologues to be read aloud at an event outdoors at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. In November, 10 participants, including Silva, shared their stories relating to their personal experiences during pandemic times. Kevin Ryan of the Island Theater Workshop coached the readers ahead of time. Each had his or her own perspective on the topic. The five-minute talks ranged from Lynn Ditchfield’s love letter to her husband to Silva’s humorous piece titled “Circle of Five.” A second outdoor reading was held this past weekend.

Now, in order to encourage others to write about the challenges of the past year, Silva is hosting a digital workshop through the West Tisbury library. She invites everyone — professionals and first-time writers alike — to join. “It’s really a community-based project for everyone from all walks,” she says. “We want to welcome people who don’t consider themselves writers, and people who have never been on a stage, as well as professional writers and actors.”

Participants can use the workshop to prepare something to submit to the upcoming live (on Zoom) reading events, or simply get some help and a little motivation to write about what they’ve been through in 2020. The workshop is free, and limited to 12 people. Another workshop, led by Jennifer Knight, will be held in January.

A former English teacher, Silva has been hosting writing workshops and offering private consulting work for about seven years. According to her website, the workshops offer “a blend of exercises, readings, and discussions to connect writers with their writing and themselves.” The upcoming workshop will also focus on how a monologue differs from an essay.

Silva has written for numerous national and local periodicals, including the Boston Globe, Women’s Running, and Taproot. She is also a yoga teacher and community activist.

Although a few in-person workshops that she had scheduled for this year in Costa Rica were canceled due to COVID, Silva has been keeping very busy with virtual workshops and private, onsite classes.

She notes that one bonus to hosting classes on Zoom is that it has provided participants with much-needed connection to others during isolation. “I think for a lot of people these are the only faces they see all day,” she says. “It’s been amazing how people have connected and joined this beautiful community.” She adds that some of her students have started their own regular writing groups.

Among the participants in the first two live reading events were members of Silva’s memoir-writing workshop, although all are welcome to submit through the website. In addition to the sharing sessions, eventually Knight and Silva plan to schedule an online theatrical production in the spring, and a publication of a collection of Covid Monologues next summer.

Of the project in general, Silva says, “It’s a platform where you can dive into sharing your truth and learn how to express it in a way that is both satisfying and engaging.”

Silva is currently seeking sponsorships for the Covid Monologues M.V. initiatives.

Covid Monologues M.V. workshop will be held on Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The workshop, sponsored by the West Tisbury library, is free for all and limited to 12 participants. Email wt_mail@clamsnet.org to sign up. Visit moiraconveysilva.com, covidmonologuesmv.com, or mamasignite.com/covid-monologues-mv for more info, prompts, and to find out about future workshops and other opportunities Silva will be offering.