Creativity After Covid
My first creative "event" after lockdown happened. And it was glorious. So how can we approach creativity after lockdown is over? How has Covid impacted artists and what they create? An essay on recovery, repair and re-connection.
This weekend gone I hunkered down under a willow tree on Hampstead Heath. And I wasn't alone. I was joined by creatives of all kinds, who sat in the open air and a little apart. We all came to watch artists share work and share some work ourselves.
"The Poet Tree" (@thepoettreelondon) is the brainchild of our very own Amy. It's a space for poets, musicians and anyone else who loves words to come and heal after lockdown. In her words "To celebrate music, poetry, creativity and life after lockdown".
It was heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure. I was aware of my own reactions. The way I was so impacted by what I was seeing. It felt odd. Alien. I was moved from laughter to tears and back again so many times I lost count. It was a wild ride.
I thought to myself afterwards - is this normal? Is this what it used to be like? Or is it because I have missed so dearly being an audience member? Am I so starved? Is it purely the over exuberant reaction to a missed addiction? Like guzzling wine on the 1st of February after dry January.
I think back to pre-covid theatre and performances I went too. How I was rarely moved to tears. Rarely so quick to break into snorts of laughter. Was I so saturated then with watching, I had grown a little...numb?
But then I thought about it some more. Luckily I had a pretty long bus ride ahead (Amy lives in North I live South, it's a geographic tragedy). So I thought even more. And I realised something.
It wasn't just because I had missed it. Creative stuff. Sharing that with others. It was more. I think the stuff itself has changed. It's different. Because Artists are different.
Louis Pieris is a poet and actor. He shared a poem about the coverage of the migrant crossings by news outlets, the inevitable stoking our country's imperialist history. The bit that made me want to weep?
'Children clutching father's like oak trees, With only one word armed in their vocabulary: "Please"'
David sung to us about paying the rent. About how your landlord has a hold over you. eliciting equal parts laughter and sad recognition.
Amy spoke to us in winding, wonderful words about crying in Byron Burger. About loneliness in a pandemic is something to be reckoned with and faced. About how you can be surrounded by disapproving staff, ketchup and burger grease - and still find the resilience to pull yourself together.
Joe sung to us about his love for chicken (with an apology to all the vegans present).
Jerry let loose his frustrations in an aptly titled torrent: "What The Fuck Is The Craic?". He told us about moving from Nigeria to Ireland. About watching Irish Black Youth hurt each other instead of uniting together.
Charlie told us a children's story about two clouds learning to cry.
Megan asked us, what would it be like to wear your heart on your sleeve? Would people be more honest? Would we stop hurting each other? Or would it only be worse?
Why did all this feel different somehow? I'd like to suggest because we have never needed to hear from each other more. We have never needed, as millennials in our living memory, to process so much so quickly. We have seen so much suffering in the last year. In new and frightening ways. With so much available at our fingertips injustice, inhumanity and unsustainability is hitting us in the face. Square on. We are living in unprecedented times for our generation. More than ever we need art to help us through this.
I thought this as I sat on the front of the bus, watching London pass by. And I thought - yeah, that's what I missed so much. Brave people, sharing how they are able to keep going. Keep trying. Despite feeling guilty for not being vegan. Struggling to cry. Struggling to stop crying. Struggling to be seen. Struggling to eat. Or get out of bed. Struggling to not feel awful about what is happening in the world. Or struggling to pay the rent.
We share and we laugh and we cry, and then we keep going.