Wales Arts Review asked some of Wales’s top writers to pen some thoughts on the future. This new series brings together a wide variety of perspectives and ideas in a vibrant array of styles and forms, expressing hopes for a new way of doing things when the Covid-19 coronavirus is finally overcome. Political, personal, sociological, ecological, cultural – this is an evolving tableau of ideas for the world as it is and how it might be. Here, Taylor Edmonds puts hope in the conversations that may come, and offers some guidance in how topics of seemingly unsurmountable scale can be tackled from the smallest starting points.
A new world. I say it out loud so I can feel the way it rolls over my tongue. I savour the word new, once meant for something shiny and store-bought, now signalling change and lessons on a global scale. I have talked to friends and family about the need for anger, for revolution and protest. Though in lockdown, these feelings are overshadowed by a lack of control and helplessness. We’re waiting. One thing is for sure, when this is ‘all over’, to wish things back the way they were is to deny the ugly truths about the structure of our society that the pandemic has brought to the surface. A society where ‘key workers’ are the backbone, yet paid minimum wage, NHS workers are declared ‘heroes’ yet denied proper protective equipment, BAME people die of COVID-19 at more than double the rates of white people and the government’s negligence and slow action has led us ill-equipped to many preventable deaths. How do we process what is happening? What can we do?
These are all huge, overwhelming thoughts that most days I can’t consider without slipping into panic. I recently taught a series of community creative writing workshops where we discussed the desire as a new writer to take the weight of a whole complex topic on your back in order to say something profound; be it racism, sexuality or class. We talked about starting small, within the perimeters of our immediate selves, to build confidence in the way we see the world before expanding outwards.
So, I’m starting small.
I’m waking up late and moving slowly, letting my body guide me. I’m quietening the voice that makes me feel guilty for not using this time to write, work out and better myself. I’m texting a friend when I listen to a song that reminds me of them. I’m quiet, observing. To practice empathy and compassion for others feels radical under a right-wing government and structural society that wants so badly for people to stay pinned against each other, firmly rooted in the places that are predetermined for us. To be slow, gentle and forgiving with our minds and bodies feel radical in the capitalist rat-race that wants us hungry, fast, working like machines. Small acts of kindness have huge impact. A new world is hard to imagine when our instincts in times of uncertainty crave comfort and normality, so I try to be ready. I stay connected with others, angry and gentle, hopeful of the change a new world can bring.
Taylor Edmonds is a writer, performer and marketing & social media manager from South Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and is currently working on her debut poetry collection, Shedding Skin, which explores womanhood, empowerment and storytelling. Taylor is also a team member of Where I’m Coming From, an open mic and platform for BAME/underrepresented writers in Wales.