A few months ago, I wrote a piece for the Guardian titled “Touch saved me from loneliness. What will we become without it?”. It began as a testimony to a world without touch and echoed as a call to action. I reached out to Mahogany L Browne the brilliant, luminous writer, and asked if she would join me as a co-curator of this special series, The Power of Touch.
We agree: many of us are unable to make physical contact with our ageing parents, our children, our dear friends, our family members in other parts of the country or the world. Many of us are stuck in our houses, or behind masks and gowns or plastic shields. Sadly, we are becoming afraid of each other; our bodies, dangerous and lethal. Fear relies on silence and othering. Fear has allowed our neighbourhoods to become islands. Fear of touch, of not enough, of absence.
The idea for this series grew from a small anthology of work by radical, radiant writers into an almanac centring on touch as a compass for keeping our hearts and imaginations untethered from fear. What memories of touch have returned you to yourself? What photo or song or cloud, just in eye’s view, has grabbed your hand and walked you through the archives of your knowing. What is touch, if not a remembering? The consensual hug is a form of survival. The lovers holding hands is an act of insistence. The everyday, seemingly mundane act of playing sports, having a haircut or slicing a piece of fruit – all of these daily shimmers of magic beg us to remain. Close to the closeness. The heartbeat of equality, equity, love and freedom for all requires us to remain. Present. And here ... are some stories and poems. They are full of loss, longing and an almost unbearable tenderness. Here ... is a glimpse of gorgeous. Let these words get under your skin, let them wrap themselves around your heart. Vigilant.
V (formerly Eve Ensler) is a playwright and activist. Her latest book is The Apology (Bloomsbury)
Mahogany L Browne is a poet and author. Her latest book is Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice