Friday 1 January 2021

Review by Cathi Rae of "Arrival at Elsewhere," Curated by Carl Griffin

At the end of March 2020, when the world closed down, artists and writers I knew fell into two camps: there were those, faced with very real concerns about their livelihoods, struggling to home-school and manage their fears for themselves or family members who found themselves unable to make any creative response to our new world order, and then there were the others who found themselves writing or creating obsessively, trying to record the events and their personal responses. As someone who was firmly in the second camp, I was excited to read this pandemic collection, and it’s not quite what you might expect, described by the curator, Carl Griffin as “a book length poem, [where] poets from across the world speak in one voice in response to 2020’s life-changing pandemic.” Poets submitted via a world-wide open submission which requested personal and nuanced responses to the initial few months of lockdown.

Poets included range from the well-known and established to new and unpublished voices, who each submitted complete pieces. Fragments from each were then taken and woven together into one complete book-length poem which touches on many of the experiences lived by us all in 2020.

So, there are many  beautiful, poignant and nuanced descriptions of the silence, the growing attention to nature and gardens, loneliness, fear of the future and managing ourselves in world where many of our compass points are missing. The many different voices have  been skilfully edited to create an extraordinarily effective and moving long poem, an effect that stays with you long after you have read it. It is  one  of the most interesting poetic responses to 2020 that  I have read.

If that’s not enough to pique your interest, sales of this book go to support NHS Charities Together.


About the reviewer
Cathi Rae is currently a PhD student  at the University of Leicester. A selection of her own pandemic writing was published in UnDividing Lines, in Autumn 2020. You can read a review of her pamphlet, Your Cleaner Hates You and Other Poems, here.

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