“My aim was to convey the emotional aspect of COVID-19 through poetry. I wanted to show the emotions experienced from a young person’s perspective, and convey the general assumptions made by many (especially older people) about the origins of COVID-19, and show the misinformation heard by so many. I hope it empowers young people to want to make a change in their lives, and see the struggles they’ve had as an opportunity rather than hinderance. I hope people can see this poem as a snapshot in one of the most interesting months COVID-19 has seen – a potential turning point, but also a test to see if people can continue to persevere.
I used the data analysis podcasts to learn how to better condense the large volume of media we have been reading both through the course and on the news. I used content analysis to go through news articles and identify key words or phrases that gave wider insight into the tone of the piece, the emotions and type of information a news source was trying to spread. A lot of right-wing media spreads fear of tyranny from government, whereas left-wing media tends to spread fear of individuals and their selfish instincts (like not wearing a mask). I listened to different speeches from the US, UK and France to try and compare language. All nations used patriotic language and spread ideas of coming together to support their nation’s fight. They used war-like vocabulary, and did exactly the opposite of what was discussed in our Week 6 – the politics of pandemics, which emphasised COVID doesn’t have borders, so there is limited point using vocabulary which alludes to such.
My original idea was a children’s book to explain simply what COVID-19 is. But when considering the idea of a legacy, I decided to write something that permeated across a larger group of society. Whilst it is simple, it is effective in asserting the emotions, confusion, pain and hope COVID-19 has brought, which can permeate through all groups of society. When I first wrote the poem, I felt rhyme was rather simplistic and a childish way of writing a poem. As I was writing, the lines that did rhyme felt far more memorable to me than those that didn’t. They flowed and created pace to the words, which allowed for greater emotion when reading it.
This was perhaps the most important thing to me – the reason I changed ideas was to create a memory people could share with others. I think Currents students are in an incredible position, and I hope I can use this for any later pandemic, emergency and critique of anything in my degree. I think reading the poem creates a snapshot in time of a struggle that people will look back at for decades to come. A time of hardship, pain and suffering, and I hope the end of the poem shows despite this all, people stayed positive, came together and supported one another. It also creates hope for sustainability, and the responsibility of young people to take control of their future, be responsible, not to blame and to take initiative.
Reading through my poem, I certainly believe it evokes feelings of pain and emotion. This is far beyond what is shown in quantitative data, which doesn’t communicate suffering, as numbers are just numbers, so are far harder to show experience with. I think my asset in a sense excuses some of the poor behaviour of media hyperbolising events, and thus peoples mistrust. People are scared, and will read and share the stories that give them any sense of clarity. It is not fully medias fault that they play into this. I again (it now has been suggested in one of the lectures too!) recommend that everyone on this course reads Factfulness by Hans Rosling, and use his diagnoses of the world to analyse the data we see, the vocabulary we use, and the emotions we add to empirical evidence to distort them.”
History and Politics
Listen to Alexandra Fischer-Malinsky reading her poem:
Things I’ve been told about COVID-19
My mum told me the virus was spread by the Chinese,
Someone ate a bat,
And that was that.
But it’s not that simple, is it mum?
No-one knows where it came from,
Where the panic, fear and chaos arose
This was a fate we hadn’t chose.
You claim its ‘science’ but what does that mean?
Your ‘science’ is so vague, data analysed by politicians and those who have a Stake,
Those who don’t care and will do what it takes,
To manipulate, lie, avoid and spin,
And fail to acknowledge the mess we are in.
We can’t live like this forever, this we all know.
Cases in Edinburgh are in fact at a low,
Yet we still are trapped in our rooms,
Hoping for news will take us away from the gloom
Clinging to our phones, praying for a notification that will tell us that life can Move on.
But it’s not that simple, is it mum?
Will I be paying for this for the rest of my life, or be forever in debt?
Will I be able to see all the friends in first year I met?
Will we ever be able to be unmasked,
Will we ever be able to grasp
That if we go to a concert, someone in the crowd might be ill.
In a theatre or play,
There is no magic pill.
Nothing can make us forget it all,
And yet after all of this we still stand tall.
Not since the wars have we seen such community, such resilience and strength.
The greatest length
We’ve made is our feelings towards others, towards the planet.
We have an opportunity to change- coal, fast fashion, short term profiting –
Think about our future and our ideals,
We have a chance to take this piece meal.
Look from the ground up, build on what was once there.
But instead of being idealistic, make it come true.
This is no longer just a dream for me or you.
It is a reality that with work we can make it our truth,
Save the planet, plant trees, encourage the youth
To care, take part in doing what’s right,
Don’t lose sight
Of what we can save, the world we can rebuild and we will.
Be passionate, be curious, ask questions and be true.
Review all sources, and don’t fight the new
The exciting, the extraordinary,
It’s all in our hands.
Take control, and you’ll see mum, the future will go to plan.
Featured Image: Lipstick by Normski Normski
Note: When assets did not have an obvious image available to represent them, and where the student did not wish to have their image included as part of the showcase, we have often selected images from the extraordinary collection in the official United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub, for which we are very grateful.