Kate Clanchy is a well known British poet, who works with young people. The poetry in this book comes from students in a class that met at a school in Oxford but during lockdown continued their poetry workshops online. Kate shared a lot of these poems on Twitter (if you're interested in poetry and you follow no-one else on Twitter, follow @KateClanchy1, the poems she shares from her students are amazing).
I had really enjoyed reading Kate's Twitter stream and once I heard about this book I was determined to buy it!
This is a book full of poems that are well written and truly felt. The poets come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries and bring their varied experiences into their work. These poems speak of inequalities, loneliness, family, culture and many other topics.
Lockdown is often the dominant theme of the poems, as in The Poem in Quarantine by Linnet Drury:
.....If this poem were autumn, it
would not be dry enough for leaf fights, if it were
spring the daffodils would be stars a little worse
The boredom of lockdown specifically crops up, as does food, and both are combined in this line from Cooking by Mukahang Limbu:
Because time is a tuna sandwich
with some pickles and I am tired of it
Family is also a major theme, given that many of these poets have been spending a lot of time with their family during lockdown:
will always be
I'll never understand.
from My Mother by Amaani Khan.
Lockdown is having a definite negative effect on people's mental welfare and that is evident in some of these poems, which address that issue
...It's been a long time
since I've done something
without asking if it will kill me.
from evening run by Annie Davison.
This is a brilliant anthology of poetry from young people, who are not just 'promising' but already talented poets who have interesting, vital things to say and who know how to write poetry.
All proceeds from this book go to Asylum Welcome, a charity assisting refugees and asylum seekers in Oxford.
Only a limited number of paperback anthologies were published (and I think have sold out) but you can buy Unmute on Kindle here.