Closed World

I wrote Closed World many years ago as a result of playing around with ideas about found texts and revisiting the poetry of R.S. Thomas whose language had haunted me since my own O’ level years when ‘the black kettle’s whine’ in Evans‘ solitary hill farm brought the bleak sound of isolation into our classroom. This poem draws on Children’s Song by Thomas and was first published in Moon at the Park and Ride (Shoestring Press, 2012).

Just as Lockdown was about to begin in the UK, Graphic Design tutors, Jospeh Pielichaty and Helen Merrin at Nottingham Trent University were due to introduce a new assessment for their 1st years. I was one of a small group of poets invited to share a sample selection of our work, meet with the students and to introduce our writing. Closed World was one of the poems I had chosen. The event was scheduled for the evening of 16th March. Suddenly everything changed: it quickly became apparent that we could no longer safely meet hundreds of students in one room. Instead, Joe and Helen swiftly interviewed us for short films which included performances of some poems. We all kept our distance in a large design studio in the Waverley building which was filled with fascinating student work.

What I did not fully realise then was that it would be the last time I would be in a university building and, more significantly, the last time I would be able to be in one room with other poets and new faces for many months. The other thing that strikes me about this sequence of events is that perhaps now, in the context of Covid-19, Closed World has new resonances for readers in a time when our young people are locked away from the world, living through months of their childhood in confined spaces with little or no chance to wander from home, to make their own new secret discoveries away from adult eyes.

The films were put online and the students were given an extended deadline to submit. They had to work differently and, like all of us, to adapt to new ways of working in isolation, I have not yet seen all the results but Ivy Jiang’s version of Closed World particularly struck my eye. Thank you to Joe and Helen for making this all possible and to Ivy for her striking work.

Ivy Jiang is a a Year 1 Graphic Design student at Nottingham Trent University who is extremely interested in creating illustrations. If you like her art and would like to see more, please follow her on Instagram @Grumpsweetie

If you would like to download a copy of the illustrated poem to enjoy or to use with young people please do so with our blessing. We would love to know how you use it. If you would like some ideas about writing or teaching Found poetry and exploring poetic language go to the Poetry Teaching Materials page of this website.

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