To say the 2020 news cycle to date has been dramatic is an understatement. But at the same time, people are resilient and some of the more creative of us have found ways to find a positive outlook on the situation. Namely – with poetry, and with #COVIDPoetry delivering thousands of results across Twitter and Instagram, the historical and cultural canon is brimming.
Poetry has been said to punctuate moments of transformation and be, by nature, consoling because of the way it asks us to stop and contemplate. Especially when these transformative moments are ones of crises.
As the world sits for a moment and takes stock of its surroundings people like Dominique Kelly, based in the inner west, have been spending her newfound time writing poetry. She’s kindly agreed to share some of her work and her thoughts on process, lockdown, love languages and spirit animals.
How often do you write?
I’d say a rough estimate before COVID would be between 2-4 hours a week, which definitely differs. Sometimes a lot more; others a bare minimum. It depends on what you have happening in your world. During COVID, I’ve spent days attached to my journal.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Oh it can absolutely be exhausting; sometimes it can feel forced. Though once you have that flow, you find your groove – nothing can be more empowering.
Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
All! The! Time! This is only natural; we are human after all. Some advice I can give for this is to take away the expectation and pressure of performance. Listen to yourself, be patient! Give yourself permission to slip up, make mistakes. Take the time. If you feel like writing a poem about peanut butter, do it! And be okay with it!
How many unpublished poems do you have?
Well, it’s hard to say… But the journals are stacking up. This will be my first time showing my poetry in such a public forum and to humans who aren’t my nearest and dearest.
What is the most difficult part of your process?
I am my own inner critique, which I know I’m not alone in. This is my first time really owning my art. I didn’t have trust in my words, wasn’t confident I was taking the right path. It’s a sad beautiful process, but something ignited in me and I wanted more for myself. I wanted to be heard, I wanted to inspire. I took away the fear and replaced it with. Well, why the heck not.
How has lockdown changed the way you feel about writing?
I had TIME, which was crazy. Days on end I’d wake up and all I wanted to do was grab my pen and paper and write, which I haven’t felt in years. I think lockdown created a balance within myself; it was being thrown into this unfamiliar state that made me reflect. The importance of an abundance of things in my life came to the surface that I didn’t fully grasp before. The sense of community, it was beautiful. Love was roaring and it came apparent to me that I could use words to create that balance for someone else, too. So I started to believe I could. Essentially, lockdown made me confident in my words.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Well if you haven’t read about the 5 love languages…
Ok I’ll just say the first thing that came to mind from my own personal experience, is when I came out. Communal words, connection and support… Endorsed change. They become more than just words.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes. No matter the length of emotion, it’s still apparent and felt. I’m not really sure what it takes to be a writer but I know it’s a whole lot of uncertainty and you may not always be aware of the emotion. Which is a-ok.
As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
I resonate with being a wolf. I enjoy that they stay within a pack, and offer this raw and pure connection that I think only they can understand. They have this unspoken softness, but edge of strength and are always willing to guide.
If you were writing during a different era, when/where would you want to exist?
70s! If I could sit down with Oscar Wilde that would also be a dream. I think the type of philosophy and writing of that time is so flamboyant and profound but beautiful. It’s not a writing style I associate with my own and I want to understand a mind behind it all.
There may be a lot of curves, you may drown, you may leap. But no matter the size of the wave, you are the flow state of the current. You will always be breathing. You are breathing.
I have no idea what day is today, but I think I have finally found peace in that. Day to day simple abundances, fluent steps that are almost the same. Give me that undefinable something, push my limitations so I can find absolute beauty within the small pleasures of a thunderstorm.
(Find depth & appreciate the small things)
Show your tears.
Here, you can surrender… it’s okay
Let your eyes soak in the beauty that surrounds you. Acknowledge this pain. Be patient. Be gentle. To be scared and vulnerable is to be strong.
You can find the perfect place for shade. But when it leaves, the blossom becomes you. This is your chance to bloom, co-exist in a place where we are all aligned existing in this moment. Sadness is universal and is as transient as the clouds. The other side is beautiful, together, we can grow.
Smiles can strike happiness into the souls who need it most. The world created such beautiful things and gave you eyes to see them. Beyond the aesthetics, there’s words. There’s kindness. There’s purity to be empathetic and nurturing, and what a liberating concept to believe that what you can create for someone can have a domino effect to be passed on..