I’m having a real love affair with poetry at the moment. To be honest, I think lots of people are as I’ve seen so many amazing poetry collections being shared on Twitter and Instagram at the moment. I won’t lie, I’ve picked quite a few of them up over the last couple of weeks. Unmute is amongst that number.
Unmute is the latest anthology to be collated and edited by Kate Clanchy. She edited England Poems from a School (which I loved), wrote an amazing memoir about teaching (which I also loved) and has lots of other books (which I haven’t read yet). If you haven’t already checked out her other books, you really, really should.
First though, let’s talk about Unmute! Unmute is a collection of poems from young poets, reflecting on and questioning their experiences in lockdown. There is something very raw about these poems because they are so tangibly a reaction to the country’s lockdown earlier in the year. Somehow, they’ve managed to peer inside my head and find the threads of thought and emotion that have been lurking there. They’ve untangled them and woven them together into something beautiful and powerful all at once. I have a feeling that lots of people will find similar feelings when they pick it up.
This isn’t a collection with answers about lockdown but one that explores all the tiny moments that made up those months we spent locked away from the world. It perfectly captures how strange 2020 has been and encourages introspection in the best possible way. I had a lot of thinking to do after reading this collection and then spent a lot of time looking at the poems I had written in lockdown too. It was comforting to see that I had missed the same things as these poets too (although they wrote about those experiences far more eloquently than I ever could).
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it will be like to look back on lockdown in a couple of years. I spent those three months alone after my housemate decided to stay at her boyfriend’s and I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like it again. I’m so excited that I now have a poetry collection that perfectly encapsulates the experience for me; it will be perfect for looking back on when this fades to a strange memory.
This is raw and potent poetry that perfectly captures a crucial moment in our shared history. What more could you want?