Poet Carol Ann Duffy and the Manchester Writing School have launched an international poetry project in response to the coronavirus.
WRITE Where We Are NOW will see writers including Duffy, Gillian Allnutt, Raymond Antrobus, Roger McGough and Ian McMillan share new work inspired by the pandemic.
Each work reflects on the writer’s own personal experiences of the Covid-19 outbreak from all over the world and are available on the project website.
The initiative is led by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, where Duffy is creative director.
She said: “I hope that these poems will provide an opportunity for reflection and inspiration in these challenging times, as well as creating a living record of what is happening as seen through our poets’ eyes and ears, in their gardens or garrets. We need the voice of poetry in times of change and world-grief. A poem only seeks to add to the world and now seems the time to give.”
Duffy has contributed several new poems, including Hands, Since You Ask and O, written in Manchester where she is based.
Meanwhile, Imtiaz Dharker’s poem Cranes Lean In was written near the Barbican in London. She explained: “I was on the phone to my daughter that Sunday, 22nd March, standing at a window looking out over the marooned city. London had stopped its eternal building and the streets and stations were becalmed.
“That was the day it suddenly came home to many mothers what this meant, this strange waiting time without their children. I could hear the phone calls all over the world, people separated and searching for words of hope and consolation to give each other. The words my daughter gave me were about kindnesses, and something we had both been waiting for: the cherry trees blossoming in the parks and streets of London.”
The poems are presented in date order and each includes a note about where it was written. And the website will be updated frequently throughout the pandemic with new contributions.
Professor Malcolm Press, vice-chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “I am sure that these outstanding poems will voice the sentiments and feelings that many of us around the world will share. At the same time, I am confident that these innovative and imaginative works will inspire creativity and hope.”