UNESCO World Poetry Day, Mother`s Day & Coronavirus
23rd March 2020
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The coronavirus has sunk it`s fangs into the UK`s skin and Boris Johnson has ordered thousands of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, theatres and cinemas to close.  This is a historic moment and the day the UK changed forever.

Millions have heeded the Prime Minister`s advice - including family parties - to do their bit to halt the wretched pandemic.   

Of course there  are consequences.  There is never a good time for a pernicious pathogen to strike with the speed of a cobra and inject it`s poison into our lifeblood but it just so happened to be on World Poetry Day and Mothering Sunday Weekend.

These dates in the diary may seem small consideration compared to the way we behave during this epidemic that will decide the fate of millions.  The Prime Minister has told the nation to stay home alone to save your lives as it is believed that more than 150,000 people are already infected. This comes at the same time that the Prime Minister has issued a grave warning that people should "stay away" from their mothers on Mothering Sunday because visiting them could kill them: 

"The single best present that we can give is to spare them the risk if catching a dangerous disease" he said.

There have been ample warnings about the looming threat to the NHS and the need for everyone to engage in social distancing.  We can all see the clouds and we all know there is a storm coming as we have seen in Italy where reporters claim that all you hear are sirens and church bells tolling for the dead. 

The coronavirus is not just a health calamity but economic annihilation for businesses across the UK who are collapsing as income plummets.  Thousands of jobs across this region have already been lost and more are on the abyss.

Self-employed creative like musicians, spoken word artists and those otherwise engaged in the performing arts are without an income.  The Prime Minister has said the tide could turn within 3 months but that sounds widely optimistic.  There are reports that social distancing may last a year.  Our whole way of life is in peril.   

What about our mothers?  We have all heard the stories of selfish shoppers stripping supermarket shelves of essential items leaving NHS workers and the elderly vulnerable.

Last month`s button badge of "Be Kind" has been replaced by "I`m All Right Jack".

Italy is in Hell and will this be our region`s fate within weeks?  Our mothers need us more than ever but tens of thousands of them are in self isolation with  no happy gatherings with flowers,  no clan reunions with hugs and kisses all around and no Mothering Sunday lunches in pub or restaurants.  All is cancelled except the love we feel for the woman we all depended upon when we were small.

A mother`s love is unconditional and however old we are - wherever we roam - it is inextinguishable.  Our mothers are the ones who are always our rock but our elderly mothers  are now the vulnerable ones because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

Across this region are images of empty streets, boarded up pubs and restaurants, empty cinemas and theatres.  Facebook is awash with messages to stay home, self isolate and be strong. There are messages to our front-line NHS workers in the battle after working long, emotional shifts and righteous indignation over selfish shoppers who strip supermarket shelves.

There are countless anecdotes on social media about empty food banks and the hoarding of toilet rolls and sanitary pads.

The bite of the coronavirus has given us a shocking taste of our own mortality as it`s poison seeps into our consciousness and we fear for the lives of our families and elderly relatives.   

On Mother`s Day we feel the absence of our own mothers and we all feel  the pain separation.

For some of us our mothers are no longer upon this earth and we remember other days before we even knew that dreaded word "coronavirus". Ironically UNESCO`s World Poetry Day fell one day short of Mother`s Day.  In self isolation thousands sent their mothers messages not only that they loved them but also why.  Creatives in the music, performing arts or spoken word industries also celebrated World Poetry Day in virtual reality theatres, clubs and performance venues.   

One should never underestimate the resilience of the human spirit.  Poetry is part of our species` DNA and affirms our common humanity. We all share the same feelings and needs everywhere in the world.  Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and has been with us since time began communicating the innermost values of diverse cultures.   

Poetry captures the creative spirit of the human mind. It  also encourages a return to the oral tradition of spoken word, to restore the connection between poetry and other performing arts such as theatre, music and art and support small publishers.  The Wold Poetry Day also creates an attractive portrayal of poetry in the media so our communities can asset their identity.  

Former Walsall Poet Laureate Ian Henery launched his second collection of poetry, Black Country Blues,  5 years ago at Walsall Central Library and the New Art Gallery in Walsall with Walsall Poetry Society, the Mayor & Mayoress of Walsall and Walsall Writers Circle.  All proceeds from the book went to cancer care charities.  Artwork on the book was by Kristina V Griffiths and Steve Toulouse and publication was by Thynks Publcations.  On Mother`s Day here is a poem for mothers everywhere:

My Mother`s Lullaby 

My childhood years so far away,

Lost in time, spent in happy play

Now seem like a mythology

When my mother once sang to me. 

To a child, there is much to fear

But brave if my mother was near:

These times come back in memory

When my mother once sang to me.   

Lullabies soothed, I came to know

A mother`s love, so long ago,

Tender loving care on her knee

When my mother once sang to me. 

Another age - time has passed by,

Days one forever, this I sigh

Now found only in reverie

When my mother once sang to me.


The coronavirus pandemic challenges us about what it means to be human.  We can no longer shake hands or hug in greeting. We are expected  to observe social isolation for at least a year. 

However, across social media there is a wave of altruism and compassion as human beings look for ways to support others in social isolation, hardship and distress. 

"Now more than at any time in our history we will be judged by our capacity for compassion" said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.  "When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back on this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness, done by us and to us". 

Let`s not forget poetry and our mothers.  

About the Author

Ian Henery

Member since: 4th February 2019

Managing Director of an award winning law firm
Ian Henery Solicitors Ltd

Award winning poet and playwright

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