Carrick-on-Suir writers’ group’s Lockdown poem inspires beautiful book of art

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Carrick-on-Suir writers’ group’s Lockdown poem inspires beautiful book of art

The Lockdown Is/Was poem and book of art in its cage

Two pages of the art Sheila Wood created to illustrate the Poetry Plus writers' poem Lockdown Is/Was

The lines of a Covid-19 lockdown poem composed by members of a Carrick-on-Suir based writers group have been beautifully illustrated in a sketchbook of visual art works. 

Artist Sheila Wood has created a gorgeous multi-media book of paintings, sketches and collages to accompany the Poetry Plus writers group’s  Lockdown Is/Was poem its members wrote collectively about their experiences of the three-month lockdown earlier this year. 

The finished scrapbook of art is displayed  in a cage, which Ms Wood created from scrap metal she found around her home. 

“It’s just so beautiful and special. What a response to the Covid-19 lockdown,” said Poetry Plus founder and tutor Margaret O’Brien. 

The Lockdown poem and scrapbook of art originated with a writing project Margaret set the members of the Poetry Plus group on their final online Zoom session of the lockdown at the end of June.  

Before the spring lockdown, Poetry Plus was a monthly Friday night session Margaret hosted for 10 years at Carrick-on-Suir’s Brewery Lane Theatre where writers and poets were invited to come and recite their own poems and prose or the work of other writers.  

When the country ground to a stand still at the end of March to reduce the spread of Covid-19, Margaret decided to move the Poetry Plus sessions temporarily online on Zoom. 

The online sessions were attended by creative writers from other parts of the country and  US along with Margaret’s regular group from Carrick-on-Suir and its hinterland. 

They were so successful that Margaret ended up hosting the sessions  weekly for 15 weeks up to the end of June. 

On the final Zoom session, she set the Poetry Plus writers the task of writing a collaborative poem where each would contribute two lines starting with “Lockdown is or was” and using the image of an animal to describe their experience.  

Nineteen writers contributed lines to the poem, which has been published in a booklet called Only Connect.   

Margaret contacted local artist Sheila Wood and invited her to create a sketchbook to go with the Lockdown poem. 

Sheila presented the finished sketchbook to the Tudor Artisan Hub in early October.  She has put a huge amount of work and imagination into illustrating the individual lines each writer contributed to the poem. 

Margaret says it’s hoped to publicly exhibit the poem and sketchbook in Carrick-on-Suir when the Covid-19 pandemic has abated but in the meantime they are working on showcasing it on a virtual platform. 

 Musician and photographer Pete Smith is currently working on producing photographs and a video of   the Lockdown poem and its accompanying collection of art to make it  available to the public to view   while the Covid-19 restrictions continue.    

 The Only Connect booklet,  which features the Poetry Plus writers’  Lockdown poem is available through the Tudor Artisan Hub’s patreon page, which can be accessed via the hub’s Facebook page.