By Vicki Pither
I was never much of a poet- not even close. English literature never inspired me at school. I was always very studious, academic and hard working... but I never felt that I connected with literature in a way that felt meaningful... or valuable. English language was my passion, it felt more relevant, more current, more appealing.
Who would have guessed that lockdown would completely alter my perspective? My entire perception of the worth and scope of poetry and verse.
The value of poetry through this period of uncertainty has been entirely immeasurable, absolutely infinite and completely unquantifiable.
When lockdown was first announced on my 30th birthday, I was utterly perplexed. Anyone who knows me is aware that my life is renowned for being loud, busy and dynamic, so, like for so many others, the abrupt news of lockdown was a bit of a shock, a punch in the gut and a kick in the teeth. Worse than that was the uncertainty and instability of our futures. All of the unanswered questions and the unknown territory consumed me.
Lockdown took so much from me (and many others) in one blow...it robbed me of my time with family, it drastically altered my working life, it thieved many of my hobbies and interests , it stripped me of my routine and all lockdown offered in return was plenty of time. Time to think, analyze, worry... but also time to slow down...discover... learn...educate...develop...
It was through this period of discovery that I truly found my love for poetry. Mel’s ‘poem a day’ through lockdown transformed my experiences and my state of mind.... it not only brightened my every day, but it nurtured my mental health the whole way through lockdown... and poetry continues to support me to this day.
Mel and her poetry has taught me more than I could ever have fathomed. It’s taught me that poetry is boundless... limitless, infinite. It can address and permeate any subject, emotion, thought, debate, concern. It can travel far and wide, span many different languages and reach every crevice of society.
Poetry is powerful. Through poetry, there is increased knowledge and understanding. Through poetry there is the ability to represent something truly important, there is the opportunity to spread awareness and educate others. Poetry has caused me to reflect more deeply, research more widely and think more openly.
Throughout lockdown, Mel’s poetry was my therapy. It took me from moments of despair and sometimes destruction, to periods of calm and reflection. Through reading Mel’s poetry, I felt connected and united. It resonated so loudly and so clearly that it began to overwhelm those feelings of isolation, to build a sense of unity and community. I felt part of the fight, rather than simply a victim of it. Poetry became my safe place, my stress relief, my therapy.
I would be entirely foolish to omit that poetry has also become a very easily accessible form of quality entertainment for me. Mel’s poems have had me in hysterics, struggling for breath and in intense abdominal pain! Humour has enabled me to relax my shoulders and see light in the dark.
Oh, if only I could rewind half of my life, to the 15-year-old me, with my 30 year old brain. If only I could have unlocked my understanding of poetry’s potential sooner...
All I can say is, I’ve unlocked poetry’s potential and now I’ve swallowed the key.