Poetic pandemic contemplations
The COVID-19 outbreak impacted a lot of people differently. Some financially, some professionally and some personally, but one thing that remained the same is what people hope could’ve been done differently to avoid the pandemic.
Kusum Lata Sawhney, a British–Indian author, through her poetry in the collection, We Might Have..., chronicles the unprecedented time we’ve been facing in the light of COVID-19. Kusum is a critically acclaimed author and poet with several fictions and poetry works under her belt, including Wych Stories, I Am All Woman, Ayala and Kindred Spirits. Most of her work is female-centric, offering a much-needed voice to issues often brushed under the carpet.
Through her poems in We Might Have…, Kusum traces the emotional response to the pandemic — from the first news of the virus, the fear, the unknown, the isolation, the lockdowns, the anger, the indifference, the chaos, the economy, the tiers, the global response and much more to the mutations and the vaccines we have today.
Then elaborating on the story behind her book’s title, she tells us, “When the news of the virus first arrived, the conversations that ensued prompted one to ask myself and others ‘What if we had done this or that differently? Maybe we would not be in the position we find ourselves now.’ We Might Have... was born from those early thoughts.”
Tales through poetry
Even as the everyday happenings and responses of the world to the virus provided her the material, Kusum used the time and space during the lockdown to write.
Kusum shares her experiences that lead to creating poems. “The range of thoughts and experiences that culminate in a poem are varied. Like it is with everything, poems are our response to the external and internal that finds an answer within. It can be a stray fleeting moment in time, a dramatic incident that left an impression or a light-as-a-feather thought that needs unlocking through words,” she articulates.
Kusum has her favourite poems in the poetry book. “‘The Prologue’ and ‘Epilogue’ — the beginning and the end as it is today,” shares Kusum.
The writer’s next project, she says, will be a novel. “I have a novel coming out soon, which belongs to the same genre of my other books, namely, women’s fiction. After that, I have a big book, which is going to be a complete departure from my usual work — a mixture of magical realism and the supernatural,” she concludes.