“Love in the time of Covid-19”

Have a poem, with the aforementioned cliched title, filmed on my webcam complete with the noises of both my mum and dad in separate skype-meetings upstairs. I was only supposed to be home for a couple of days, but then the travel ban hit and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to my uni town. Now we’re three people all trying to do our separate jobs in one house with strangely few doors and a lot of open doorways; it’s not the best solution, but we’re making do. And to be fair, I’d much rather be here right now than isolated all alone in a student flat. Take care of each other, folks.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is waving at each other from across the street
is walking two meters apart
is «I’ll leave your groceries on the porch, take care».

Love in the time of Covid-19
is travel bans and cancelled plans and waterfall worries and loneliness.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is creating an everyday in cramped houses
is home office landscapes and nurseries in living rooms
is a kettle constantly boiling in the kitchen.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is empty streets and darkened towns and school grounds void of children.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is learning to be productive in a new normal
is being together by being apart
is showing we care by breaking the chain.

Love in the time of Covid-19 is a team effort, a global population staying inside, a world worth of shoes left waiting by the door.  

Love in the time of Covid-19
is making the best of strange days to come,
strange days we won’t know how to handle
strange days we never even dreamed of.

Love in the time of Covid-19
is singing together through open windows
is lighting candles for people we do not know
is gathering in applause in houses across the nation.   

Love in the time of Covid-19
is staying inside today so others can see tomorrow
it is solidarity
it is compassion.
it is a choice.

-Andrea

“I love you like a candle flickering on December 1st” (or getting back up on the poetry stage)

If there is one thing I’ve missed since moving away from Winchester, it is the budding community of writers I got to be a part of, and the many opportunities to try out your work on people. I’ve missed electric evenings at the Railway Inn, where you could try your own poetry on for size and then get lost in the words of others. I miss the monthly Poetry Platforms; the space you could perform work in progress-pieces and see how the words you were trying to convey would sit on your tongue, not just on the page.

I haven’t really found anything like that here in Kristiansand, but truth be told, maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. Monday brought a wonderful opportunity in the shape of a Poetry evening at the student union stage; a poesiaften hosted by the student society for Nordic studies.

I got back up on the stage for the first time in about a year and a half, and read two of my own pieces. One in Norwegian and this one in English.

The whole evening was wonderful. More than 50 people came in and sat down, listened closely, shared their thoughts and drank student union wine. There were so many people who wholeheartedly threw themselves into their performances, the atmosphere in the room was warm and relaxed, and I was surprised and happy to find a space at this uni where poetry of all kinds and styles was celebrated and enjoyed. Naively enough, just because I haven’t seen it outright before, I didn’t believe there was a space for poetry in this town at all. Oh, how wrong I was.

This was my first poetry performance in Norway, and it was a lot of fun. Funnily enough, I’m just realising that I wore the same shirt on Monday that I wore to the SO: To Speak Poetry Festival in Southampton a couple of years ago – I guess this is “the poetry shirt” now.

I hope you enjoy this piece. It’s a cliche little love poem that means a lot to me, and it was lovely to finally get to perform it in front of a supportive crowd. It has love, it has spaceships and it has cheese on toast – what more could you want from a poem?

This evening definitely rekindled my love for spoken word-poetry. It was never gone, never burnt down or put out like a campfire under water, it just laid dormant as there were few opportunities to nurture it. Fingers crossed for many more nights like this one, nights that properly refuel the fire.

I hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“I get it” by Harvey Randall

Coffee soaked into the roof of a mouth
whilst rain rallies itself outside
strawberry fudge melting between teeth
fingertips on the back of a neck.
The mist outside falls
into the bottom of the mug
coalescing white smoke
condensate heart on a window
is this what it is meant to feel like?

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

-Harvey Randall

“In Defence of foreign accents”

The goal among the international students at my uni,
was to completely drop our accents –
to have our words sound like they’d grown up
with ice cream floats and builders tea.

We wanted to be able to go to any bar, to order any coffee,
to keep any conversation going for however long a time,
only to be able to slip in an
“oh, I’m not from England, actually,”
and watch people’s surprise.

We worked so hard, to lose our accents,
the rolling Rs, the hard Gs,
the lilts that gave us away;
the sound of what we thought was
“not good enough,”
“not practiced enough.”

Oh, how wrong we were.

Accents are identity, just as much as names and clothes
and the street corners you passed on your way to school.
Your accent’s where you’ve come from, it’s the dotted line on an airplane map,
it shows the world you dared to try.

Your accent is your family dinners, the lessons of your mum’s lullabies,
the laundry songs of your house,
the courage it took, to get on that plane.

It’s a road map of the people you care about,
those who sat with you while you were learning,
who let you spin wonders of the words you didn’t understand,
and who offered their pronunciation to try on for size.

My accent grew up with snow in its boots and saltwater in its nose.
My mispronounced “shower gel”,
My Ds and Ts blurring into each other,
is my home away from home.

So instead of dropping our accents,
let us celebrate them.
For all that we are,
and all we’re yet to learn,
and every step along the way.

-Andrea

16 to 23 and everything inbetween

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

I’m turning 23 and I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. I’m aware it won’t mean that I’ll wake up taller, wiser or more confident. I know your birthday is just a symbolic notion and that what helps you grow are all the days in between. However, like with New Year’s Resolutions, maybe birthdays can function as a day of reflection, a definite marker of another year passing. Not for everyone and not for the world, but in your very own timeline. What have you learnt since your last birthday? What have you figured out? What new people have you met, and what new paths have you travelled down?

To “celebrate” that today is my last day as 22, I’m posting this little video. It is a poem I wrote for the OctPoWriMo challenge, last year, about all the things I’d love to tell myself at 16. In the original post I wrote “this took a long time to get right, but I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much.”

Filmed in my bed, with a comfy shirt on and a cup of tea waiting. It felt fitting to post this on my last day of being 22, as a symbol of all the things I’ve finally figured out, and of all the things I’ve yet to learn.

Here’s to making the next year a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

Journal #15, Some days

Some days, “exam revision” turns into “the weather’s so lovely today,”
and “I should really finish this paper,” becomes “you feeling ice cream?”
Long hours hunched over books have to make space for hours sat in silence on the docs, phrase structure grammar admits defeat to sea gulls and the sound of lazy waves, and I can feel myself take a deep breath.

Some days. Some days. Days like today.
When hands clutch ice cream cones instead of pencils
and “to do” lists are called “today I may” lists,
those days I like to stop for a second,
lap up some early April sun with closed eyes and a relaxed jaw,
and remind myself
that life is pretty great.


-Andrea

“To the sixteen year old who wanted to change the world”

I can see you standing at the edge of everything you know,
so ready to throw yourself at every opportunity.
You flex your fingers, nails bitten short,
everywhere but here, you think.

You’re sixteen years old, you have so many plans,
there is so much you want to do.
You’re gonna do it all.

But right now, you’re terrified of being alone,
so desperate to be part of a group that you’ll laugh at their jokes,
even when the jokes make your cheeks burn,
you’ll chant along to their songs,
even when the words make the hairs on your arms stand on edge.
Soon you’ll learn that your words are more valuable than that,
and most importantly, you’ll learn that you are capable of being on your own.

Right now, you don’t just carry your heart on your sleeve,
you have sown it onto your palm.
Every time you greet someone new, you give it away.
It’ll take you a few years, but you’ll get better at guarding it,
and you’ll start to learn to walk away when you need,
and persist when you must.

You’ll learn that not every opportunity is golden,
that not every acquaintance is going to help you grow.
The sooner you learn that, the sooner we can stop picking bad decisions out of our hair.

Stop being so adamant,
you know nothing of people’s lives.
You don’t know anything about the dreams they had to alter,
how they had to come to terms with what the future held and didn’t hold.
Instead, be kind, tread lightly on other’s challenges,
and try to leave every moment you visit a little bit better than you found it.

You give so much and expect just as much back,
but I will tell you right now, people do not work that way.
No one wants you to give them your all, to give yourself up for someone else;
making other people’s pain your own,
does no one any good.

And remember to let people know how you feel;
even the ones you love cannot read your mind.
You’ll be left with nothing but clenched teeth and a mouth filled with coal
if you always expect people to know what they did wrong.

But there is so much good in the world, and you will find it.
In places you never thought to look,
in friends that you won’t meet for years.

And come twenty-two, you won’t even believe where we are now,
you won’t believe the people we have in our life.
Soon you’ll sit on the kitchen floor
in a little house all on your own.
You’ll have your back up against a fridge covered in pictures
of new friends and old friends and places you have yet to see.

You’ll lean your head back, close your eyes,
and think about a day spent in a little cafe in a new city,
laughing until you had to clutch your stomach,
worried you’d laugh your lungs straight out of your chest.
You’ll think about nights spent dancing,
sugar under your shoes,
nightclub evenings with people you’ve known since you were children,
when life’s brought you down different paths, but never too far apart that a slice of cake and a cup of tea can’t bring you back together.

Right now, you want to change the world so badly.
You want to grow up, get out, see the world and everything it holds.
You want the taste of unfamiliar foods on your tongue,
strange new flavours and ideas,
you want to meet every soul that’ll ever change your life,
and all of that right this second.
I promise you, you will do all of that.

But let me tell you, growing up is happening fast enough,
and the people around you are growing old.
And soon, you’ll stop biting your nails.
You will move to another country, you’ll sign up to societies and clubs and events,
you’ll enter so many rooms knowing no one and exit with more love than you know what to do with.
You’ll start writing poetry, and you’ll read it aloud for almost a hundred people.
You’ll take the train to new cities you conquer on your own.
You’ll start sitting in cafes all alone, watching leaves fall off the trees,
and you’ll discuss how you love, but never really understand, Shakespeare,
with new friends who you’ll write postcards to, for years to come.
You’ll call multiple towns your home and dream in more than one language.
You’ll see sunshine in a raincoat and change the world one new thought at a time.

It’s all gonna happen soon enough,
so take your time. You’ve got plenty of it right now.

Love, a twenty-two year old who’s just starting to figure it all out

OctPoWriMo2018, the prompt for day 7 was “unsent letters”. Yes, I know day 7 was yesterday, but this took a long time to get right, and I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much. Life has gotten a bit in the way for my October Poetry Writing Month and I haven’t posted a poem a day at all, but I’ll keep trying as best I can, and post the few poems that do come from this challenge.
This, however, felt both strange and wonderful to write at the same time. Packed full of cliches and abstracts, as a symbol of how nothing feels more cliched and abstract than being sixteen.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea