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San Diego writers chronicle life 'In the time of COVID and uprising'

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Cristina Kim
The cover of "Reclaiming Our Stories In The Time of COVID and Uprising."

“I couldn’t help but wonder if I am bringing death into my home,” writes Ana Laura Martinez in the new book of essays, "Reclaiming Our Stories In the Time of COVID and Uprising."

Her essay, “Compounded by Fear,” which chronicles her fear after being exposed to COVID-19 before vaccines or tests were readily available, is one of the book’s 13 original stories written by emergent San Diego writers.

Published by San Diego City Works Press, the compilation is the third in the "Reclaiming Our Stories" series that began in 2015 as part of a writing project started by Pillars of the Community, a local group that provides support for people in Southeast San Diego after incarceration.

The series' goal is to cultivate community and center the perspectives and stories of San Diego’s Black, Latino, Indigenous and disabled writers and residents.

The latest book, "In the Time of COVID and Uprising," is a special edition and the first in the series to be organized around a central theme. All of the collection’s essays focus on what it’s like to have lived in San Diego during the pandemic, the 2020 Presidential election, and the increased call for racial justice after the death of George Floyd.

“We know our folks are out there protesting, having experiences and we should collect them,” said Ebony Tyree, the book’s co-editor and contributor. “We decided that’s what we would do.”

From what it was like to protest in La Mesa to being detained in the Otay Mesa Detention Center during the pandemic, the stories Tyree and her fellow editors compiled provide a wide range of experiences that together create a timestamped portrait of the past two years.

“One of the things I want folks to take away is really thinking through how we must practice radical care,” said contributing author Martinez. “I think about the quote from Grace Lee Boggs, 'The only way to survive is by taking care of each other,' and this book is really a reflection of those little different glimpses of folks in San Diego and their experiences.”