Wednesday 31 March 2021

Merryn Williams (ed.), "Poems for the Year 2020: Eighty Poets on the Pandemic"

About Poems for the Year 2020
Thousands upon thousands of poems were written in the unforgettable year 2020, when
corona virus changed the world. Eighty of the best have been carefully selected for Shoestring's new anthology. They come from all five continents and all corners of Britain, and look from several different angles at the crisis. They are not all about doom and gloom. Sickness, bereavement and isolation are all here, along with empty cities and animals roving the streets, but there are also some very funny and life-enhancing poems about how people are coping in extraordinary times, and intend to come through.

Contributors include: Anon, Mona Arshi, Adrian Barlow, Meg Barton, Denise Bennett, Matt Black, Janine Booth, Alison Brackenbury, Melanie Branton, Carole Bromley, Simone Mansell
Broome, Rip Bulkeley, Maggie Butt, Ian Caws, Gladys Mary Coles, Deborah Cox, Barbara Cumbers, Tony Curtis, Ann Drysdale, Vicki Feaver, Paul Francis, Owen Gallagher, Ann Gray, Paul Groves, Jill Hadfield, Alice Harrison, Gail Holst-Warhaft, Joy Howard, Keith Hutson, Lesley Ingram, Chris Jackson, Rosie Jackson, Mike Jenkins, Roz Kaveney, Angela Kirby, Camilla Lambert, John Lanyon, Gill Learner, Emma Lee, Pippa Little, Marilyn Longstaff, Deborah Maccoby, Mark McDonnell, Gill McEvoy, Jennifer A. McGowan, Anathema Jane McKenna, Alwyn Marriage, Deborah Mason, Kathy Miles, John Mole, Judi Moore, Lucy Newlyn, Patrick Osada, Antony Owen, Harry Owen, M.R. Peacocke, Megan Peel, Clive Perrett, Pauline Prior-Pitt, Rita Ray, Padraig Rooney, Lesley Saunders, Brighid Schroer, Robert Seatter, Clare Shaw, Jay Sizemore, Paul Stephenson, Anne Stewart, Sean Street, Todd Swift, David Tait, Wisty Thomas, Serin Thomasin, Nick Toczek, Christine Vial, John Powell Ward, Merryn Williams, Stephen Wilson, Gregory Woods, Neil Young.

You can see more information on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read about the editor, and two poems from the anthology. 

About the editor
Merryn Williams has published five collections of poetry: the fifth is The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems (Shoestring Press). Her latest book is Mansfield Park Revisited (Plas Gwyn Books), an updating of Jane Austen's classic. She spent the year 2020 reading literally hundreds of poems about Corona virus and lockdowns. Her website is here.

From Poems for the Year 2020


          for my son, Silas, NHS anaesthetist and rock-climber

Dangling on a rope
hung from a cliff-top
you look like a tiny spider 

spinning a thread
the slightest gust
could snap. 

Now your patients
are hanging on threads.
And all of you 

working on wards
where a terrible
scissor-wielding hag

decides who to spare,
which thread
next to cut.

Note: the ‘terrible scissor-wielding hag’ is Atropos, eldest of the three Fates.

 - Vicki Feaver, South Lanarkshire

Geoffrey Chaucer Cleans the Beach

Whan the temperature in June is hotte
Than longen folk to doon what they should notte
And specially from every shire’s ende 
Of Engelond to Bournemouthe they wende.
Some had woken with the lark
To finde a space where they could parke
Otheres parken everywhere
Legal or not, they did not care
And loutes imbiben swich liquor
Of which vertĂș engendred is the boor
And disputheth eche hir beachside space
And one anothere puncheth in the face
Then when al that motley bunch were gonne
Cleanen we the beche anon
And finden underwear and socks
And defecations in a box
And so was I seke of hem everichon
That I wrote to my PM anon
To demaunde new laws  straight be doon
But from him answere was there noon.

- Jill Hadfield, New Zealand

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