POEMS about the pandemic through the eyes of Bradford children have been published in a new book.

The collection, called Covid-19 Poems from a Pandemic, has been put together by Bradford poet Sheena Hussain and features poems by youngsters who entered a competition she launched in the first lockdown.

“At the end of lockdown number one I was able to secure a small pot of funding from a local community charity, Better Communities Bradford, and took the idea of rolling out a Covid-19 poetry competition,” said Sheena.

“The Programme Manager, Abbas Najib, without hesitation agreed that this would make a fantastic project and gave his backing. Chris Bem, a local NHS surgeon, showed a keen interest in wanting to read and judge the children’s poems, thus the competition was set up. It ran for three months and there were four different age categories. The winners each received a cash prize of £50 and a signed copy of their poems.”

Once the winners were announced, Sheena felt “the project couldn’t possibly end there”.

Utilising her own skills and funds, she decided to publish all the poems entered in the competition. “I took it upon myself to publish all the children’s poems as a keepsake of memories of a time we will look back on - that monster of a pandemic, 2020!” said Sheena.

The four winners are:

Amelia Riaz for her poem Lockdown: “My daddy is on the front line fighting crime. Mummy is also a key worker I am her biggest supporter."
Salma Trivedi for Lockdown 2021: “ There is still time as time will not wait . This is not a lockdown; this is a blessing in disguise."
Troy Lakota Atherton for School’s Out: “ Greedy people panic buying not a thought for those who are dying.  The death toll rises day by day coronavirus is here to stay."
Madiyah Jahangir for Where is the Hope?: “Perhaps we will benefit from this manic craze realising what we have to appreciate. All that’s left is to get past this phase. I can feel the hope”. 

Says Sheena: “This unique little pamphlet is a great legacy of a period in history which will be talked about for many years from now. I hope it will lift spirits of not just children but adults too.

“It’s also a great educational tool for children to learn from their peers; therefore it was important for me as the editor not to disrupt the form of the poems because it was a complete process which mirrored their fears and hopes for the future.”

The book was launched in February, during Children’s Mental Health Week, and some of the children read out their poems.

“It’s a colourful little pamphlet, just like the varied poems from children of diverse backgrounds,” said Sheena. “You have to read each individual poem to see what the pandemic looked like from the eyes of the younger generation. These poems are a gift for children by children.”

Sheena now hopes that schools across the UK will obtain copies of the pamphlet to keep in their libraries. “No doubt there will be many school projects and displays focusing on the pandemic of 2020. What better way to get children to address the topic than by reading from this remarkable collection of poetry,” she said.

Claire Malcolmn, CEO of New Writing North, said:“We will all remember our personal experiences of the pandemic, but here we have a valuable record of how one group of talented young people experienced it with creativity.”

One of the winners is Salma Trivedi, from Beckfoot Heaton Primary School. Headteacher Zoe Mawson said: “It is so inspiring to see how these young poets have gathered their thoughts and captured their own experiences in this time of unease. Such honest depictions of how the pandemic has affected us all. An incredible read”.

* Covid-19 Poems from a Pandemic is available to order from Sheena’s website at poetrybysheenapoetrybyname.com