- 18 May 20
The poem speaks to cohesion and solidarity in terms of mental health amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
'Collectively Counting', a new poem by Stephen James Smith, speaks to the need for cohesion and solidarity during this time of disruption, as a result of Covid-19. The poem is accompanied by a film by Craig Kenny and has been brought into being in collaboration with First Fortnight, a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action.
In the poem, Stephen James Smith marks the particular disruption in the nation's mental health balance that Covid-19 has created. 'Collectively Counting' is a call for us all to pause for a moment and count together the many questions and wonderings that this time has brought to us.
Stephen James Smith observed: "As Seamus Heaney said, 'I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world'. Right now, there's so much uncertainly and it's the poets responsibility to ask questions: even if they remain unanswered, it can help us to try and find meaning in the eye of a storm. This is my attempt at finding some meaning."
Craig Kenny added, “I started this project as a way to focus my creative mind during this time. It was my form of meditation. Capturing the empty streets of Dublin gave me purpose while all of my work was on hold. I’d been a fan of Stephen’s work for quite a while and knew his words could really help bring the footage to life. I’m incredibly proud of the film and think it’s a testament to true creative collaboration.”
The team at First Fortnight were keen to get this work out now, despite it being many months away from their usual festival time in January. The decision was taken because of a sense of urgency about the current status of the world and how our mental health is affected by it.
Listen to the poem by Stephen James Smith, and watch the video below:
Main pic features Stephen James Smith at Now We're Talking, with Hot Press and Lyons Tea, at Smock Alley in October 2019.