On Monday 4 January, my children went back to school and my poem, “Toxic Blooms” was published on The Poetry Village. I took advantage of the childcare to start drafting a blog post: how this was one of the only new poems I’ve managed to complete since lockdown in March; how poetry seems almost impossible for many people at the moment; how fiction sometimes comes easier in times like these. I began to think about why particular forms thrive (or change) in certain social, economic and cultural contexts, as seen in the flourishing of the short story in Gaza, or in South Africa under apartheid.
In the end, the blog-post was thwarted (and binned), after schools were closed that evening in the new lockdown measures, and I was thrown back into childcare-deadlines-teaching-chaos. So, while I’m attempting to work a way through all this, trying hard to keep three children emotionally well, I’ll just share a couple of new poems instead, on the proviso that these are bits of light in the jumble and mess of life!
I wrote Toxic Blooms in response to two news articles – 400 pilot whales being beached off the coast of Tasmania, and 330 elephants dying in Botswana, having being poisoned by toxic blue-green algae in their watering-hole. It was as if I needed to be presented with the enormity and bulk of something huge in order to feel that I had anything worth writing at all.
My poem, Prayer, was also published this month in Issue 6 of the lovely Dust Magazine, edited by Tara Wheeler, with a beautiful cover by Liam Lefr. The Glimmer issue is full of beauty and hope – something we all need at the moment.