While brainstorming ideas for my art piece I found myself writing down words and phrases about things I had witnessed first-hand, read about or learnt from the data. As I reflected and reread these thoughts my emotions became charged and my anger rose up, and more words were added. The fact that these words affected me so profoundly led me in a different direction and I realised a poem was forming from these random COVID-19 memories that might also resonate with others. From this origin my poem evolved from rage at the government to a message of strength and hope forged by groups of individuals acting outside the system, and the poem mirrors this journey itself.  

Having read academic papers on the consequences of government actions and policies during the pandemic, I wanted to turn this data and statistics into something more accessible and remind readers of the facts and get them to reflect in a way that would resonate with their personal experience. I thought delivering these messages in the form of a poem was a great way to portray the government’s handling of the pandemic and show how negatively impactful their actions were for so many individuals, ages, communities and industries. Poems are evocative, they employ few words to express events and feelings that we all recognise. I used rhyme because I felt the structure would give it energy, rhythm and the steady flow and pace of the journey I wanted to take people on. The reader travels from an opening with a bleak disheartening tone but ends on a more optimistic vision giving the reader an opportunity to feel more hopeful and empowered about the future – a future where individual efforts combined with local and community level support can keep our most vulnerable and deprived alive and provide support to those in need where the government has consistently failed to do so. I believe my poem shows us that there is hope for the future of humanity even in times of crisis. I hope that people are reminded that we are more resilient than we know and can come together and adapt the way we live and behave. We don’t have to, and indeed cannot, rely on government but we can take collective action that will influence our future and in doing so we stand a better chance of dealing with ongoing emergencies such as pandemics or global climate crisis.


Katerine Knapp

Human Geography



Currents 2021


The Covid Chrysalis


Behind the podium of delusion

they stood like such fools

mumbling riddles of mistrust

a failure so cruel


They were warned of the dangers

but the suits thought they knew best

still expanding the ‘private’

and neglecting the rest


The data disregarded

the science plain ignored

an overwhelmed health system

but still we clapped to applaud


As nations were barricading

and locking down their doors

our government had other plans

to bet on horses and rugby scores


Our borders stayed open

for entry from far and wide

‘a few extra deaths won’t hurt’

just 20,000 bodies they let slide


‘The virus doesn’t have favourites’

and yet the first 11 doctors we lost,

all from our BAME communities

the most vulnerable such a cost


Doctors pled for protection

nurses wept in pain

not even the bruises hidden behind the blue

would hide the disdain


Breathless babies lay lonely

with no fingers to grip tight

left alone behind glass boxes

their loved ones out of sight


A little black girl locked down in Croydon

sat practicing her sums

trying to get her education

among knife crime and guns


Her white friends play in their gardens

as she sits in her one bed box room

on the 16th floor of her tower block

just her, four walls and the moon


Her mother misses meals

so she could eat lunch once again,

so what if children go hungry

they need biscuits at Number 10!


Our artists were disregarded,

sat lonesome at home

bereft without crowds

their whole futures put on loan


The Arts were simply forgotten

and yet counted on for support

instead they funded a failed test and trace

yet again our leaders fell short


The press and media

won’t call out the lies

or inexcusable mismanagement

sadly not a surprise


The Opposition fails miserably

to hold the government to account

for incompetence and corruption

while the bodies just mount


We look to our neighbourhoods

where assistance was slack

we turned to our locals

for where our government had lacked


Our faith in humanity

comes not from those elected

resilient new leaders emerge from

the swollen ranks of the neglected


Here is a chance of hope that

together we, the great ignored

without fanfare or funds

will see our communities restored


Featured image: photograph by Nadine Shaabana.

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 sometimes selected images from Unsplash.