Rituals A Writing Challenge from Jane Clarke


A Writing Challenge from Jane Clarke

Think of a new ritual that you’ve had to put in place because of the pandemic.

It could be just about going to the park with friends. It could be sitting out in the garden after dinner. It could be talking to friends over the garden wall. Think about the ways in which we’ve found different ways of relating.

When I think of ritual, I think what ritual does: it gives us comfort. It gives us some kind of sense of security, because it’s the repetition. And it gives meaning in our lives.

So think of a new ritual and describe that fully. Think of the language that goes with that ritual. Think of maybe describing what’s around it. Are there smells. Are there tastes? Are there particular people? What are the particular words people use around it? Is there a particular emotion it evokes for you?

You could even write about it in prose first and then cut back to distil it into the form of a poem and to find some music in the lines.

A pandemic poem doesn’t have to be a big poem, if you like. I think sometimes people feel because the pandemic is so big that the poem has to be so big. But actually, if you take one small aspect of experience, sometimes the smaller the aspect of experience in a poem, the larger the power of the poem and the more people it touches, because in that very personal instance something universal is conveyed.

This writing challenge was created by Jane Clarke as part of the 2020 Inside Writing showcase.

Please send your responses to ncenla@newcastle.ac.uk and we’ll publish your work as part of the Inside Writing showcase on our archive website.