A painting by Joe Rivera. Photo supplied

Catholic poet, artist put spotlight on COVID

  • August 31, 2020

Patria and Joe Rivera met the challenge of day-to-day life during a pandemic by pouring their energies into creative pursuits. 

Naturally, Patria, a Toronto Catholic poet and editor, devoted time to poetry while Joe picked up his paintbrush and went to work on the canvas. 

The couple will present Art and Haiku in the Time of COVID at the Toronto Public Library. The virtual event opens Sept. 2. This event is a part of the Asian Heritage Virtual Sessions jointly offered by TPL and the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc.

Interestingly, the haiku that will be performed by Patria, previously an editor for The Catholic Register and Catholic Missions In Canada magazine, were penned by her over a decade ago. 

The most notable changes she made to her text were the formatting of the haiku rather than alterations to the content. She modified the haiku to be even more concise and direct for a purpose.

“The pandemic has brought before us a searing sense of the fragility of life, and our connectedness with each other, and the world around us,” said Rivera. “The haiku in its sparseness of form gives us a sense of who we truly are, find in sheltering at home, opportunities to look within and to become whole once again.”

Meanwhile, Joe has rendered artistic portraits that celebrate COVID warriors and documents the sights of a city dealing with a pandemic. Joe told The Catholic Register in an email that he is not an artist “who waits for inspiration.” He writes that he is fueled artistically by “waking up each day thankful for another day” and the opportunity to “seize every moment (the day) allows.” This mindset helps him create at a prolific rate. 

Art and Haiku in the Time of COVID represents a rare artistic collaboration between husband and wife. As each completed their self-quarantining projects, they discovered that Joe’s paintings nicely complemented Patria’s haiku. 

Patria hopes their combined efforts “can bring heightened awareness or capture the sublime” of this unprecedented time. 

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis struck a personal note for the Riveras as Patria’s younger brother Roy Cabatuando was diagnosed positive in late July. Patria says Cabatuando was brought to the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City with chills, a high fever and breathing difficulties. He later contracted pneumonia. Fortunately, he was diagnosed negative on Aug. 17 and is now recuperating at home. 

To stream the event, see https://www.crowdcast.io/e/tplrivera/register.

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