In March 2021, a community panel chose poet Dan Simpson to be one of 4 artists to lead groups for our You Me Us 2021 project.
“Throughout lockdown I’ve seen the impact of writing to connect communities. I’m excited to use the power of poetry and spoken word in Medway and Swale, empowering people to express themselves and hear each other. Creatively sharing experiences can only bring us closer together, beating loneliness and isolation through the words that link us.”
Lifelines to Link Us sessions & Now I Am Zooming book
In Dan’s sessions, people shared their words about lockdown. The poems people made became a book called Now I Am Zooming.
The book was given to those who took part in the workshops and to local libraries in Medway and Swale.
Dan also created a “crowdsourced poem” – a massive community poem made from everyone’s ideas, which you can read below.
When lockdown started
smelling the ozone went online
obligatory choir greetings
chatting with folks who don’t speak the language
hugs we used to do without a thought
too much contact
the sense of how isolating it must be
big, beautiful container ships.
Walking by the sea, all cares set aside
cool breeze, sorbet-coloured waves
watching dogs play in the water
strange and wonderful family
friends near and far
seem to be on their way everywhere
banishing loneliness in the distance
bird calls singing lustily
feeling the salty breeze on my face
white yachts, red sailed barges, jet skis, kayaks
the shining sand a wide-open horizon.
I’m still nervous about our first house
mint green, ochre, lilac
closer to the countryside than I thought
but I learned new things
wattle and daub, an allen key attachment
making our mark on it here and there
bringing life and colour to a space
graffiti indoor walls, raising the rafters
a sense of purpose and pride
quite literally making a home together
I never used to be bothered about gardening
the difference between west and east coast
but a chat over the garden fence
even with the window cleaner or postie
contains the seeds for communion
a way to connect to the outside world
listening–really listening–is limitless
British Sign Language adding colour and light
a reminder about how important communication is
we can get through this
to harmonise, to share, to rhapsodise
surf the land with a cup of tea
with fortitude and a smile
watercolour paints: nature is surviving
and so can we.
• Find Lifelines to Link Us on social media: search #YouMeUsPoetry
Visit Dan’s website and find out more about his work: dansimpsonpoet.co.uk