June 25, 2021

Can society take the language and learning of the pandemic and turn it into art?

Ross MacKay

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PoetryR-Words Poetry, 2021

I am fascinated by R Numbers and exponential growth. As society we have adopted this language into parlance around the pandemic. An R number indicates how many people a person on average infects, creating exponential growth. If an R number is 2 then after ten transmissions there are over 1,000 cases. But if we increase the R number by just 1 up to 3, then after ten transmissions we have nearly 60,000 cases. For the current pandemic this is deadly but for poetry it could be beautiful. Collaborative poetry has ancient roots and Japanese Renga is still practiced today. Societal connection is currently sparse, the opportunity to connect through poetry has power. The R-Words project is about creating poetic chain letters. 11 poets have created 11 first lines in English, BSL, Scots and Gaelic. The lines have then been distributed into the community, writing groups, care homes and schools. Poets write a second line and send the poem onto three more people, who will write a third and send on to three more…and so forth. Until a poem is complete. It is then published on rwordspoetry.com Some of the poems are messy and some are beautiful. Both are welcome.