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  • NYS Writers Institute

Melissa Hurt shares some good news and a poem

Writer, local businesswoman, adjunct professor, and mom. Melissa Hurt wears many hats. We can add poet and children's book author to the list.

In July, two of her poems were featured in our Trolley journal and this week she added another accomplishment with the publication of I Am the Jungle: A Yoga Adventure, a yoga picture book released Tuesday by Sounds True Publishing. Here she explains the idea for her book:

"I taught preschool yoga when my daughter was in preschool. I am a certified yoga teacher and always believed children benefit from intelligently-sequenced yoga practices as much as adults do. I wanted to capture the child's natural capacity to tell a story through the whole body and embody an active imagination.

I Am the Jungle came fairly quickly and I developed it with my preschool yoga and family yoga classes over perhaps a year before sending it out to publishers. I tell my daughter, who is now 8 years old, that she basically co-wrote it with me!"

Melissa is an active participant in the NYS Writers Institute's Community Writers Poetry Workshop, led by Gary Maggio, and two of her poems were featured in our online journal Trolley published in July. She holds both a Ph.D. and an MFA and teaches in the University of Albany's Department of Music & Theatre. She's a certified trainer of yoga, voice/speech and movement and owns Integrative Studio.

What are you doing to stay creative during quarantine?

I have been attending online freewriting sessions with groups that I have been writing with for over a year. We all met through a course offered through Shambhala Publishing focused on Natalie Goldberg's freewriting meditation practice.

You participate in our Community Writers Poetry Workshop? Are you still meeting virtually?

Yes! We meet every other week on Zoom and it's been great! I love the different styles we all bring to the table and how we are really learning about each other through our poetry.

What was the spark that helped you write your “Quarantine” poem?

I felt so caged up in the first several weeks of the quarantine and noticed how I energetically jumped like an eager dog towards the door if I heard a neighbor walk past. I realized humans are social animals needing connection to stay sane. Even the biggest introvert needs some kind of human contact-- e.g., sharing a laugh in person, eye contact, and, even better, a friendly hug. I wrote the poem to understand better how my heart was feeling in isolation as I craved a friend.

What are you reading in the dog days of quarantine?

My best quarantine purchase is the Sunday New York Times! I read that through the week and (unfortunately for my bank account!) have bought several books of poetry mentioned in the Book Review section. I love Jericho Brown in particular!

Any advice for students and the rest of us for coping with a pandemic?

Hang in.

Have faith.

Love yourself.

Take care of yourself.

Call your family and tell someone you love them.


By Melissa Hurt

i pace

my apart-


p e r i m e t e r



cracking the door

to discover

a neighbor

passing by

my heart’s vibrant reach

beyond our six-foot separation

snaps back

cracks my ribs:

my breath

bursting “hello!”

weakened to

a wheeze-turned-whimper...

i crook my spine to


layering this



the pain of

self-quarantine &

social distance.


for the ease of life

before the






human beings as

social animals


reduced to

:dots: &

-dashes- on

a screen



© Melissa Hurt 2020. Previously published in the NYS Writers Institute's online journal Trolley

You can learn more about Melissa at and follow her on social media:


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