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Artist In Residency Waits Out COVID-19 Travel Restrictions In Hawaii


It would seem like there are worse places to be stuck during a pandemic than on a tropical island. But is that really true? We found someone to ask.

FRANCES MCCUE: My name is Frances McCue. I'm a poet and writer who is on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.


Molokai is small and sparsely populated. A few weeks ago, McCue and her partner went there for what was supposed to be a 10-day residency at the Molokai Arts Center. But as soon as they arrived...

MCCUE: Everything was canceled that I was scheduled to do, and then the quarantines and travel restrictions came down.

KING: So they are stuck there, and they don't know for how long. McCue, who teaches poetry at the University of Washington, says she's having ups and downs.

MCCUE: I feel a little bit like I'm quarantined in paradise. You know, an artist residency is such a gift. And it's - you're asking for self-isolation to do your work. And now I have the bliss of self-isolation, but it's wrapped in and imposed isolation that feels kind of strange.

GREENE: And McCue, like so many Americans, really just wants to be with her family right now.

MCCUE: You know, when I stand on the beach here and look out to the sea, my heart is really aching for friends and family on the mainland. And my daughter's in Seattle, and so that anxiety kind of puts a scrim over everything I'm reading and writing. And you know, it's such a different landscape here. This is a beautiful agricultural island with no real tourism to speak of. And I think of my emptied-out city in the Pacific Northwest, and every now and then, it gives me a pang of longing for home.

GREENE: The state of Hawaii has nearly 400 cases of COVID-19, including a handful on Molokai, so McCue says people there are being careful, using hand sanitizer and social distancing.

MCCUE: My friends in Seattle and my family are saying, don't come back; you're in the best place you could be. And I suppose that's true. But the connection that I'm forming to this place is really different from the one you form at home.

KING: And so she'll stay right up until she's allowed to go. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.