This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I have never been a great reader of poetry however, lockdown changed that as I found reading poetry was quite cathartic. When Elliot & Thompson sent me this poetry book by Rob Cowen, with illustrations by Nick Hayes, I found a collection of poems borne out of the Covid pandemic.
Rob Cowen had been aware that his own grandfather had experienced trauma during WWII just like so many returning soldiers. It was something that was never to be mentioned. However, Rob noticed how his grandfather would make collections of items from nature, this compulsion has been identified as a sign of PTSD. Embracing nature is often a way to step away from the horrors recently experienced. Rob found that the pandemic had a similar effect on many of us. We started to notice our surroundings, the seasons and we had time to experience nature. The whole period opened our eyes to our world and perhaps to its vulnerability.
Covid ripped through our families, our community, our country and our world. It was a time when concentration was difficult. The TV delivered a constant flow of frightening numbers with daily press conferences that we were transfixed by and so we were forced to lock ourselves away. Poetry for me became something I could read and re-read. Rob Cowen’s poems were short and open to interpretation and were easier to comprehend than a fictional story.
This book The Heeding is someone else’s journey through this time but it reflects so much of our own feelings. Rob’s poems unite us, reassure us and humble us.
We must be humble in the face of nature.
Such a rich line. I doubt it’s yours.
For you’ve shown little of this before,
Humility or awarenessFirst four lines of ‘Daily Briefing’
‘Pharmacy Cake’ brought tears to my eyes. It embraced all that we became during the pandemic, thoughtful, caring, loving and queuing!! I loved it and it made me wish we could have hung onto that feeling. For now I will have to keep re-reading this poem.
I keep this book by my bed and often read just one poem before falling asleep. I have been entranced, moved and awoken by Rob’s observations.
I finish with lines from the poem ‘Light‘.
You’ll not take the light from me. Not now. Now that I’ve got my eye in.