This month has been one of mixed emotions and colossal international change. It seems that America’s soul has finally been restored with the election of Biden as the next president of the United States.
Despite Trump’s best efforts to sue the democratic voting process of his own country, he has failed and resorted, as usual, to another round of golf.
The world’s eyes have shifted to the phenomenal Kamala Harris: the first woman, and first Black person, to be vice president. Her success is inspirational and is a huge step in terms of advocating American diversity and feminism – something that was so often overlooked by Trump.
In other news, a little closer to home, in fact it couldn’t possibly be any closer to home, the UK entered its long-awaited second lockdown. It seems like Boris has eventually realised that mass testing and preventative restrictions can, in fact, help control the spread of the virus…
Finally, we can wave goodbye to good-old Dominic Cummings as he crawls out of Downing Street and back to Barnard Castle, perhaps he will have greater success as a tour guide – here’s hoping his eyesight holds out!
More positively, we keep our fingers crossed for the vaccine that Matt Hancock has promised, but we must also remain realistic that this will be a long and turbulent process.
Although we are all in our own boats with our own problems, we are, nevertheless, navigating the same ocean together
It has been a busy past few weeks and I think that a lot of crucial feelings have been brought to the surface, nationally and internationally. I, also, think that it is time we gave them artistic context to realise and address them.
Holding art up to current affairs and comparing their narratives is effective, not only in analysing emotion in a world so often seemingly unemotional, but in enlightening different perspectives of today.
Hopefully, these poems I have chosen will resonate with us all and remind us that, although we are all in our own boats with our own problems, we are, nevertheless, navigating the same ocean together.
During the presidential election, I was glued to my phone, constantly checking for updates and monitoring the state-by-state results. I felt a sense of overwhelming apprehension that was reminiscent of my emotions during the Brexit vote in 2016.
It is ‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Purgh; most profoundly the line ‘A people will step back from war, / elect an honest man, decide they care / enough’
I had a deep sense of dread thinking that Trump might actually make it but, thankfully, this was all fake news, as Biden continued to gain votes and win.
The relief I felt when Biden’s success was confirmed was greater than I had expected, I wanted to jump up and down and celebrate!
I think the outcome held so much more emotion than I had expected because it restored a sense of pride and reassurance. Reassurance that, in a world that is so currently divided, there are like-minded people pushing for change and a greater good.
A poem that I love really echoes these thoughts of an overwhelming social reassurance. It is ‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Purgh; most profoundly the line ‘A people will step back from war, / elect an honest man, decide they care / enough’.
I think we can often overlook our core values and only become aware of them when someone starts tearing them down.
I panicked, immediately ordering paint, threads and books from Amazon, preparing myself for a repeat of the March lockdown
This poem appears to be all about the realignment of society. It addresses the turbulence of current affairs and the ebb and flow of politics; it essentially celebrates the ability to understand the positives that come from disappointment, such as a hope for reversal and social progression.
It reminds me that, although life it difficult for us all right now, things will always improve, and people will always pull together when things get tough.
The announcement of the second lockdown was, although expected, a depressing reality check. Whilst watching Boris and his scientific advisors announce the month-long restrictions, I panicked, immediately ordering paint, threads and books from Amazon, preparing myself for a repeat of the March lockdown.
Being in lockdown, it can be difficult to find motivation and, after a few days, it was hard for me to stay focused on my university work. Getting out of bed took longer, and sitting at my desk grew more and more uncomfortable.
We appear to sometimes forget what makes out brain happy, it needs to be able to breath and be stimulated by light that doesn’t stream out of computer screens
So, one morning with a housemate, I went on an early morning walk. Whilst I walked, I experienced a real sense of clarity, as if just by walking I was somehow decluttering my mind.
We appear to sometimes forget what makes out brain happy, it needs to be able to breath and be stimulated by light that doesn’t stream out of computer screens. It needs to be excited by the scent of flowers and grass, and it needs a moment to process the day, before it begins and when it ends.
In a time when we can’t rely on human contact to support our mental wellbeing, it is important to reconnect with the outdoors. A poem that really captures our need as humans for interaction with nature is: ‘Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee’ by Emily Bronte.
Bronte convinces her reader of the vitality of nature and its comforting presence, and I think now of all times is a moment to relish in her advice
This poem, first published in 1846, is a remarkable reminder that, for as long as we have existed, nature has always been a place of solitude and a source of inspiration.
Bronte convinces her reader of the vitality of nature and its comforting presence, and I think now of all times is a moment to relish in her advice.
Mental health can be a worry for many during this somewhat isolating time, and walking can often be a great way to clear your head if you are feeling over-whelmed.
But remember, if you are finding lockdown hard, or just fancy a chat, there are always people just a phone call or message away who can be found on the University’s Mental Health and Wellbeing page.
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