Introduced by Holly King
Monday is the start of the week, the first day, the reset button. Monday morning, as you get up to an alarm and groggily start your coffee or tea routine (I like mine black, or builder’s style thanks, and you’ll get a closed-eyed nod of appreciation rather than anything intelligible), it’s likely you’ll be envisioning how your week will pan out – this is you imagining your own little world.
2020 has forced us to all reimagine the world, over and over, with each day and new statistics, preventative measures and restrictions. Lockdown has made us reimagine our own, personal worlds. It has forced us to reassess the directions our lives have been going in, what we value, what our plans were vs what they will now be, who we spend our time with, whether we are able to sit with ourselves and listen to our inner voice now that we can’t be distracted from morning commutes and late-night catch-ups in a bar.
Luckily, some of these have been wonderful reimaginations. For example, the printing of Write On! magazine was put on hold, but our Editor pulled the team together (virtually) and we reimagined it to create Write On! Extra. In past themes, we have seen how people have shifted their focus and reimagined the world around them, from one of roads and manmade structures to one of natural beauty. I bet you’ve seen far more nature photos on your social media than ever before!
That’s the thing about humans: we can reimagine our world however we like. OK, literally I can’t reimagine the world to the extent where I have the same superpowers as Storm from X-Men, but we each have the ability to choose how we see our world. We can stop being angry, hurt, stuck, offended, unsure and afraid of a lot of things if we want to be. The power doesn’t lie with the external source of your pain, it lies in your reimagining of the situation. When I realised this for myself a few years ago, I felt such freedom. Suddenly, I could choose the colour to paint with, instead of letting other people paint me. That doesn’t mean I don’t get affected by people’s moods or words, but it means I’m able to keep my paintbrush dipped in my colour (a deep, vibrant red in case you were wondering), rather than having to use their palette.
No, not all things are that simple. Some things take more than reimagining, and more than just one person; but it’s a start. Reimagining is the beginning of change, the first step to something better. It shows you’re willing to adapt, to see the future as a bright but unclear path, that you may be afraid but you’re walking forward anyway; it shows you have hope, and that is the key to the beginning of all possibilities.
Our first feature for this week is a colourful poem by Jo Renton. The last few lines are particularly poignant to this theme, and I encourage you to re-read them:
Our blue choir robes were much too old
The collars limp and sad
We felt that we must be bold
And change how we were clad.
Long black robes and cottas white
Were now what we had to wear
Alternatives seemed not quite right
I searched in vain for verve and flair.
I searched the rainbow of colours bright
The robes we might have worn,
In my mind each hue was deemed so right
How could this wealth of choice be borne?
Blue was the sky between clouds,
Of birds’ bright wings and baby’s stare.
Blue was the colour of angelic crowds,
Of sanctity, thought and wondering prayer.
Red was the colour of sun’s lingering rays
Dipping down beyond the night.
Red was the colour of fire and flame,
Of inspiration, courage and fight.
Green was the colour after the rain,
In glistening meadows gardens and woods.
On hills and high pastures, the effects were the same.
Of miracles seen but not understood.
Why was yellow never thought of for choirs?
The colour of daffodils dancing in dew,
Of dawn’s tentative fingers before day’s rosy fire.
The colour of hope and redemption, of lives, fresh and new.
There are so many colours in which to be dressed,
Dark violet, bright orange, pale lilac and pink.
How can we decide which one is the best?
Why not wear them all, make people sit up and think!
We’ll wear robes of all colours, of red, pink and blue,
Then spin around under flickering light
Making them merge into glorious hues
Until at last they become dazzling, shining and white.
Or we’ll dip our robes into dye and stir them all round
In rainbows of blue, red, yellow and green,
Then watch as the colours spiral and merge,
Until only the deepest black can be seen.
So, if you think we are wearing just dull black and white,
Imagine prisms and paintboxes completely anew
And see how we’re now clad in rainbows so bright.
When you look deeper, you see what is true.
(C) Jo Renton, 2020
Now we’re going to hear from the next generation. These three pieces have come out of ‘Write Back’s’ Summer Holiday programme at ‘Future Youth Zone’. These eight-to 12 -year-olds from Barking and Dagenham have been imagining other worlds and other realities:
The world in 2020 is an absolute mess. Equality for all people is basically non-existent. Black people are being killed for no reason. Muslims in China are in concentration camps. People can still be killed for being LGBT in some countries. The ‘orange’ that runs America is trying to make it legal for doctors to refuse care for LGBT people and workplaces can refuse to employ an LGBT person, purely for being LGBT.
However, the world I want to see is a world where there is equality for all. Where black people aren’t being killed for the colour of their skin, where Muslims aren’t being put in concentration camps because of their religion. A world where LGBT people can go wherever they want without the risk of being killed.
Killing, abuse, war.
What has this world become?
We kill innocent animals to look ‘nice’.
If women don’t fit the beatify standards of others
They are rejected nobodies.
America’s president is a racist tangerine who only cares about building a wall.
People judge each other by the tone of their skin
What has society become?
Why can’t people just get along?
A wonderful world could exist!
Where everyone is equal,
Everyone is nice,
No one even thinks of stealing.
You can trust one another,
We are kind
We are not scared.
That world is possible.
Every day, we see black people being treated differently to white people. Any crime that happens, they blame black people. We see reports on people being killed by knife crime and guns on the news every day. We see the unfairness in the world; not enough ice cream in the shops. We can’t go to beaches because of a virus named COVID-19, which has turned our lives upside down since March. Lockdown measures were put in place, so we had to stay in our homes and we missed family and friends. Every day, people were dying of this virus. Everyone was affected in different ways. People lost their jobs due to this virus.
We all want to see people being treated equally. We want our lives to go back to normal so schools can open, workplaces can reopen, so adults and kids can go back to their everyday, normal lives. We then could all see our friends and families again. I wish there was more ice cream in shops. Also, I wish Donald Trump didn’t exist because he is ruining America. I also wish that coronavirus will go eventually, even though it won’t for a while, but we all need to work together to make the world a better place. And we need to keep smiling!
You can find out more about ‘Write Back’s’ storytelling programmes for young people here: www.write-back.org/
And you can explore the amazing facilities and activities that ‘Future Youth Zone’ offers here: https://www.futureyouthzone.org/
Lastly, a poem to showcase how important creativity is in times like these. Our imaginations aren’t limited by the physical world and can be a respite, a comfort, and a way in which we can change our outlook. Gillian, the poet who wrote this, tells us: “It’s about trying to find answers to the problems we’ve faced in 2020.” It featured on ‘BBC Radio Kent Upload’ last week, so you can still listen to it.
What I need in my life during this tumultuous time,
Is a source of infinite wisdom to offer me a much-needed life line.
If only a mysterious, musty and magical bookshop could open its doors,
With ancient tomes filling ceiling-high shelves, wobbly stacks of books piled up all over the floor.
Taking your first breath, the shop smells earthy and stale,
But you realise it’s the scent from pages of time-worn wonderous adventures and tales.
The silence seems eerie, broken only by the occasional floor board creak.
But listen carefully and there’s a rustling whisper of venerable wise words waiting to speak.
Behind the counter, stands a woman as old as time itself,
Holding herself steady with a crinkled wrinkly hand on a protruding but precarious shelf.
She has the shrewd knowing look of some-one who has lived through all kinds of hell,
But a reassuring twinkle in her eye tells she’s experienced so much happiness and joy as well.
She knows precisely which book I need by the disconcerted look upon my face,
And nods towards a corner, deep and dark, stretching far back like the infinity of space.
She points to a spindly spiral staircase sitting skeletally in the shadows towards the back of the shop;
“The knowledge you seek my dear, is up there, right at the top”.
Taking a deep breath, I ready myself for this harrowing climb
Wishing for Dutch-courage, in the form of a large glass of wine…
Sitting there upon the dusty sagging shelf, was an antique leather-bound book entitled “The Year 2020.”
It had chapter after chapter that warned of disasters a plenty.
I turned to the chapter called “September and the year yet to come”
I felt my heart sink at its words, feeling more than a little glum.
“If you do not like bad news then please look away.
There are more dark days and troubling times still making their way….
With US elections yet to come and the battle against climate change is far from won.
Around the world; war, oppression, corruption, hunger and more economic strife.
Refugees desperately needing compassion and help as they flee for their lives.
And as a second wave strikes, the pandemic will take a while to settle down and finally go.
Isolationism, racism, populism will continue to grow…
I sigh and close my eyes.
How I want some-one to guide me through all this and hold my hand.
Or maybe I should just bury my head in the sand?
And carry on with everyday life, worry free,
As if all this doesn’t matter to people like me?
Then my eyes fell on the penultimate page of this portentous book
In large illuminated print were the words that brought some relief.
The sage advice would surely save us – that was my heart-felt belief.
“Although the dark days of 2020 may seem very bleak.
Make sure when you see wrong-doing and injustices you are not afraid to speak.
Never lose faith because humankind will endure, of that there is no doubt
But only if…”
Ah I don’t believe it – someone’s torn the last page out!
The old woman smiled, or perhaps it was more of a sneer.
“We’re closing now, your time is up, my dear”.
(c) Gillian Lunnon 2020, The Drouthy Poet
Thanks for letting us reimagine the world a little more colourfully this week. If you want to reimagine a world where your art, music, videos, writing, poems or articles are featured on our website, then here’s the key: emailing email@example.com with your submission!
ReadFest is going Digital this year. Check out our 2020 programme and book your FREE tickets online: https://pentoprint.org/readfest/
We can reimagine our world however we like.