Sunday, 22 March 2020

Not Reading

A view from my writing room.

A view I am looking at a lot in these days as self-isolation. I am not 70 yet, but near enough to it to warrant feeling concerned when I venture out into the community. In Aotearoa, seventy-year olds and older are being urged to stay home.

My country is on National Alert Level Two for the Corona Virus. We haven't had any deaths (or even anyone in Intensive Care units) so far. But the virus has now travelled from just affecting those who have arrived on our shores from infected countries, to manifesting in the general community (two cases). So far we have 67 cases reported.

We are a lot better off than most of the planet. So far.

Our population is nearly five million. We are an island (well three or four islands in fact) so we can shut borders fairly easily. And they have been shut. Cruise ships have been a concern as these weren't monitored well enough two or three weeks ago. The horse may have bolted there as passengers who disembarked could well have been carriers. Now they too aren't permitted to dock.

I haven't moved far for a whole week and family who live close by, have also largely remained home.
It is scary, but life does go on as we negotiate around this outbreak. Everyone in my wider family still have their jobs. We are concerned for family overseas, but thankful for video contact with them. They are well and safe.

For me, it is not a great change to self-isolate. Normally, I do not venture out much anyway. However, I do enjoy meeting friends for coffee, going to the movies and I help out with a Church-run pre-school, music playgroup each week. These activities are curtailed for the foreseeable future. As a writer, being shut-in is no bad thing. Even so, I have found it hard to settle to writing when there is muted panic happening all around.

I am doing crosswords, watching Netflix, but surprisingly, not reading. However, when I do begin to read again, I am thinking that the many books on our bookshelves will be a good place to start.

When I am in the midst of writing - as I am at the moment with my fourth poetry book getting ready to be published (more on that later) - reading isn't to the forefront. I tend to not read when I am writing. And vice versa.

My book is nearly ready to be sent off to the printers. It is my fourth poetry collection. Exciting! But as I am finding out, this being my first ever pandemic, such excitement is clouded by the limits that being in the midst of a pandemic causes A normal launch is out of the question. A virtual launch may be possible, however. (I wonder if it will stretch to holograms?)

A major disappointment has been the postponement of Aotearoa / New Zealand's poet laureate toktoko event. (At least it's not cancelled like many other musical and writerly events.) I'm disappointed about this mostly for David Eggleton (our newly appointed laureate) but also for myself, because along with two other poets - Jenny Powell and Michael O'Leary - we are at the invitation of David, to be support poets at the ceremony - a huge privilege.

Despite the disappointments and restrictions to freedoms and privileges (formerly taken for granted) I remain thankful for many, many things. The blessings far outweighing the curses. And it's easy to be thankful when we have a Prime Minister who ends her address to the nation (the first such address delivered in this country in my living memory) by telling her people to be strong and to be kind. I'll give it my best shot.

Take care out there!

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...