Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top


Thread Tools Display Modes
Unread 03-03-2021, 04:51 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,043
Default Covid Anthology

Hi folks,

I have a poem in a new anthology, Poems For The Year 2020: Eighty Poets On The Pandemic, edited by Merryn Williams. Annie Drysdale is in here too! The poem appeared on the Sphere in the spring of last year (it's about walking along a canal), so thanks to anyone who helped knock it into shape.

I haven't received my contributors copies yet (I get 2 for a fiver!) but I know there was a bit of chat here recently about the middle-class smugness of some of the recent deluge of lockdown poems. I kept shtum, knowing this was in the offing. I'm sure Merryn, staunchly left-wing and editor of Poems for Jeremy Corbyn (along with much else), will have chosen poems that go beyond general ennui and complaints about having finished everything on Netflix.


Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-03-2021 at 06:12 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-04-2021, 11:51 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7,152

Congrats, Mark and Annie!

LOL, Mark, I did wonder why you hadn't chimed in with your usual dose of reasonable pushback in a few of those conversations. Mystery solved!

We poets do tend to cluster demographically on the older and more financially secure side, and we tend to write with readers similar to ourselves in mind. So there is unavoidably more poetic testimony from that quarter in most magazines and anthologies, regardless of the topic.

I do think poets should try to be cognizant of our personal and collective blind spots, but not to the point that we stop testifying about our own realities.

I remember various iterations of the canal poem, and I look forward to admiring the final version.
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-04-2021, 12:34 PM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
Posts: 5,513

I must admit I'd had a few misgivings. Merryn is a friend and fellow-Corbynista; she asked me for a poem and I sent her a tentative few of the many I've written during lockdown and about which I'm still unsure. Are they testaments of my own reality or the ravings of a madwoman after twelve months' solitary confinement? How far up myself had I gone to find them?

Merryn picked one. Then she got in touch and asked if she could swap it for a squib I'd put on Facebook, because it had made her laugh. It was only recently, when I went to remind myself of it, that I realised I didn't have a copy because I'd typed it straight onto the screen and forgotten about it. I hope it makes others laugh, too.

I haven't read the collection yet. It is in quarantine. But I will. Soon.
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-04-2021, 12:55 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,246

Yay, well done Mark and Annie!
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-04-2021, 01:09 PM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 389

Congratulations Mark and Ann!

(I'm not massively fond of lockdown poetry tbh, but think Julie's point is a sound one).

I think it's very difficult to write well mid-event, too. I read Ellen Bryant Voight's Kyrie at the start of the pandemic, on recommendation - it stopped me in my tracks, but I don't think it could have been written during the flu pandemic. It's a book of sonnets that gives a voice to individual and family stories - a testament to the individual and collective devastation of the flu.

Mid-pandemic stories might be different - and of course first-person in this case- and it'll be interesting to find out.

Reply With Quote
Unread 03-04-2021, 03:32 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,334

Well done, Annie and Mark! Two poems I'd love to read...

Reply With Quote
Unread 03-05-2021, 06:42 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,324

Hey, Mark, that's great. Congrats! And to Annie too! (I do remember the poem, with a cameo by Elvis if I'm not mistaken?)
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-05-2021, 08:00 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Halcott, New York
Posts: 9,354

Great poem, Mark.

Reply With Quote
Unread 03-05-2021, 08:17 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,043

Thanks folks!

My copy arrived this morning. Annie's poem is bitterly funny. About Boris Johnson's decision to allow horse racing to go ahead early in the pandemic.
I understand the arguments, but I don't really see the objection to 'lockdown poetry', myself, though I haven't written much. Of course, it sounds annoying if you give it a name like that, but it's just poetry acknowledging and responding to the changed circumstances of the world. It can be done well or badly like poetry on any subject matter. There. That's my "dose of reasonable pushback" (I love that, Julie! ha)

Yes, Andrew, it's the one with Elvis in it. And Philip Larkin and the Queen Mother. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post it here...

Edit: I've taken an executive decision that I can. People link to stuff here do they not? I can't do that because it's print and I'm too technically inept to link to a photo of the thing it is. Imagine page 54 at the bottom, if that helps...

First Walk Out Along Caldon Canal

I thought it might look changed, but it's the same
old fallen world out here — the shifting sky
keeps shifting, thick with rain. We play a game
along the bank — that people passing by
are dead celebrities, pale ghosts of fame.
There’s Elvis, see? Off to the shop to buy
essential peanut butter
(who could blame
the King for this indulgence now? Not I).

A drone flies by. You shiver, button your coat
and check your watch, anxious about the rules,
the news, the air. Three ducklings weave and float
through scum and leaves, the oily rainbow pools
that gather by the locks. A moored canal boat
creaks and rocks. Queen Mum's inside! Right fools
she thinks we are.
The past seems so remote.
She's swigging gin and rattling her jewels.

And look! There's Philip Larkin in his mac!
Swaggering along with a stick, content at last,
no social calls to make, no books to stack.

I take your hand. The sky is overcast
and the world is trying to shake us off its back.
It's time we went. And suddenly the past
is clamouring with countless dead, and black
and empty space ahead — still and vast.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-05-2021 at 09:53 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 03-05-2021, 09:54 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7,152

You absolutely nailed it, Mark. Well done. The cocktail of whimsy and reality is so much more potent than drinking them separately would have been.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,168
Total Threads: 20,589
Total Posts: 261,253
There are 172 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online