The first incarnation of “How to Be Alone” was a collaborative video by two Haligonian artists: musician and former poet laureate Tanya Davis, and filmmaker/illustrator Andrea Dorfman. After the video was first released in 2010, it went viral. (At the time of this printing, it had over six million views.) In 2011 Davis released her first book of poetry, At First, Lonely, with PEI’s Acorn Press, but it is this one poem in its first incarnation that continues to garner attention for these two artists. This month, a gorgeous, illustrated version of the poem, How to Be Alone, was released by HarperCollins.
As Davis explains, because of the poem’s first “life” on the Internet, it has created a sort of community, which, in its own beautiful way, conquers the very fear of aloneness the poem encourages the reader to rise above. It has also provided Davis and Dorfman a direct line with an appreciative audience. “Getting feedback has been invaluable; a way to connect,” says Davis. “People have taught me things in a way I can’t measure. Part of that, ironically, is to not feel alone.”