Emily, 30, pens poem for Leeds-wide project on life in the Covid-19 pandemic

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An amateur poet has submitted a moving piece of writing to a city-wide project which aims to capture the living history of the Covid-19 pandemic in Leeds.

Emily Smithies, 30, decided to put pen to paper after reading about the Covid Diaries project, which is collecting people's experiences of life in lockdown to place on them public record for future generations.

The initiative - run by Leeds City Council and developer CEG, in partnership with the Yorkshire Evening Post - is open to people of all ages to send in entries such as video diaries, blogs, photos, artwork, poems and songs to help document the pandemic and creating a lasting record of this chapter in the city's history.

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Despite never having written a poem before, at least in adult life, Emily said the process "came on naturally" as she reflected on the pandemic.

Emily Smithies, 30, who has written a poem for the Covid Diaries project.Emily Smithies, 30, who has written a poem for the Covid Diaries project.
Emily Smithies, 30, who has written a poem for the Covid Diaries project. | other

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It's nothing I've really done before. I just saw the Covid Dairies initiative and thought it was a really great way to document history in the making.

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"It was quite early in the lockdown when I wrote it. The constant news stories were getting a little overwhelming and it was nice to take a break, step back and reflect. Putting your thoughts and emotions down on paper always seem to help calm the mind and help put things into perspective."

She added: "I just thought I would do a poem. I was happy with it. I think it was something that just came on naturally - I didn't refine it or anything. I just wrote what I felt."

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Emily, who lives on her own in Wetherby, works for a high street bank helping businesses and has been able to continue working through the pandemic.

She said: "I'm working from home and living on my own which is either a blessing or not. I have the time to really do work - I'm really busy at the moment - so it's nice to be at home but equally lonely at times. It's good to catch up with friends and family on the phone and through FaceTime, Zoom and now in fields and people's gardens."

The Covid Diaries project is run by Leeds City Council and developer CEG, in partnership with the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Thought to be the first of its kind currently underway across the district, the initiative aims to collect reflections and stories from as many people as possible and place them on public record for future generations.

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Further down the line, Leeds Museums and Galleries will also be looking into how they can be used in future displays and exhibitions exploring people's experiences of the pandemic.

For more information on the project and how to enter, visit www.coviddiaries.co.uk

Emily Smithies' poem:

The talking, the laughter, the chatter, the jokes.

You’re certain it’s nothing but one giant hoax.

The questions, the queries, the troubles, the facts.

Conflicting statistics ‘bout this and ‘bout that.

The watching, the reading, the listening, the wait.

Not knowing your future, what’s next for your fate.

The twitching, the panic, the realness, the time.

It’s growing much closer, to yours and to mine.

The checking, the scrolling, the tapping, the click.

A wave of emotion, comes heavy, comes thick.

The anger, the grieving, the heartache, the pain.

The numbers keep rising, again and again.

The sadness, the sorrow, the anguish, the guilt.

You question your actions, in events that’ve built.

The numbness, the silence, the waiting, the still.

There is nothing left now…nothing until…

A smile from a stranger, whilst something so small.

Helps us remember, that love conquers all.

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