How do you find creative inspiration during lockdown? Maybe, not by searching for it, but instead, allowing space for it to find you in its own time, when it feels ready to entice you – to draw you in.
Let me explain. A few days ago, whilst checking messages on Facebook, one unexpectedly drew my attention. On reading it, I was amazed to discover it contained a poem written by an inspirational poet aged over 50. The poem, on the theme of Covid-19, not only reflected the emotional impact of this insidious disease, it also reflected a creative challenge. The poetess, Rosalind Juma, has set herself the amazing task of writing a post a day for 100 days, to be compiled into a book at the end.
Besides exercising Rosalind’s ingenuity and inventiveness, this innovative project aims to support people who have been affected by the coronavirus – Covid-19 – a portion of the proceeds will help people whose lives have been impacted.
As a poet myself, I find my own muse loves to respond to the imagination of others. On reading Rosalind’s poem: “Sorry”, I felt inspired to suggest a poetry chain… and, I found my first poetic response rapidly flowing from my fingers, rising to the challenge! Here are the first two poems in our “chain”.
I’m sorry your loved ones died
Covid nineteen cannot be denied
I made an order
You should all stay inside
I’m sorry I was not there
When at the sparse funeral you cried
I’m sorry my government acted too late
I’m sorry this virus
Was handed opportunity on a plate
I’m sorry sporting fixtures
Are so important a date
I’m sorry I did not listen to advice
Left you all to your fate
I’m sorry, you builders,
Those on factory lines
You need to get back to work now
I’m sure you’ll be fine
Just don’t take bus nor train to get there
Oh! My advice I refine
Be sure, too, to stay distant
From me, and from mine
I’m sorry, for, post Brexit, I relied on your work
Zero hours, minimum wages, but…employment’s a perk
Can’t let a small virus allow us to shirk
Yes! I’m looking at YOU!
Yes, that’s a smile! Not a smirk!
I’m sorry if I’m muddled in the speech that I gave
My advisors are huddled
The situation is grave
Unsure, at this moment,
If it’s me or you they seek to save
But, we’re in this together!
So, I give you a cheery wave!
Abandoned in a trice.
Stay at home
Safe and clear;
Now they’ll roam
Resurgence of fear.
Could it be that sweaty
Rider passing on their bike?
As they pass
Or clever dicks
Illicitly visiting their lass?
It’s guided by science
Repeatedly they cry
Yet time and again
Obfuscates the lie.
Whilst common humanity
Rears its head
Delivering food to ill in bed.
Workers, follow their hearts
Refuse to wallow
Though scrubs fall apart.
Simply sewing, public does their bit
Captain Tom shows us how to get fit.
Hope for the future
As VE spirit lifts.
Brexit billows on the breeze
3 years of anguish
Vanquished by a sneeze.
Now a common enemy
Stops us in our tracks
Will we come together
Overcome our lack?
Join forces together,
Worldwide in unity
Truly allow best endeavours
Protect each other’s backs?
I have since written a further 2 poems about reactions to the coronavirus. Rosalind has demonstrated incredible inventiveness by responding in kind – I can see her topping her target of 100 poems in this way!
Whilst I am not intending to rigidly follow a routine of responding to each of Rosalind’s daily poems, I feel energised by her willingness to react to my words, to respond and build on her own deliberations. How wonderful to experience a poetic “duel” with someone I only know via stumbling across her creative expression on social media!
I asked Rosalind what had sparked her intention to undertake this poetic challenge. This is what she told me:
What inspired me to undertake the 100-day poetry challenge? Well, I am concurrently taking a 100-day challenge with some friends from the 5 a m club. The name is self-explanatory! We are all following our own individual challenges and recording our processes along the way. These will go into a book which relates the journeys. My overall challenges span getting fitter, more focussed, and growing veggies as an experiment in self-sufficiency… also writing!
I’ve loved writing all my life but left it incredibly late to undertake the discipline of structuring my day to write, no matter what. I belong to a local writing group and last year won a poetry prize on the theme of ‘space’ So, it is appropriate that the photo of myself was taken at the ‘Museum of the Moon’ exhibition at Rochester Cathedral!
I have written fairly consistently for the last two years. Short stories, a couple of draft novels, and poetry. I enjoy being able to give a voice to people who might not have one. My novels are on the theme of the hostile environment created whilst Teresa May was Home Secretary, and most recently, the coronavirus. I am working towards getting these published.
Poetry comes relatively easily to me. I see this form of writing as painting a picture with words. So, I decided to post each day on the One of Many forum ‘Global Community’. Loosely the theme is around aspects of the coronavirus. We are living through a unique time in history (herstory). It needs documenting, and also, I hope to reach out to people through these reflections.
It still amazes me, reading over a poem again, how many levels and interpretations there can be to the words. I aim to compile the poetry into an anthology and publish it through Amazon. Some of the proceeds of sales would go towards being able to help people whose lives have been impacted in some way by coronavirus. Life will certainly not go back to the way it was before.
Are you a woman author or poet who has set yourself a creative writing challenge that has led to unexpected results? If so, I would love to hear about it! Also, if you have written poetry about the Corona virus or the impact it is having, please do share on my Inspirational Poetry Facebook page.