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Interview: Pandemic Poetry with Tiny Cingoz

At the end of 2020, we launched a poetry competition 'This is the Year', inviting young people from South London to reflect on life during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this interview, we catch-up with Highly Commended poet Tiny Cingoz to talk about her poem and lessons learned as we return to a new normal.

UN: In your poem ‘Covid-19’ you speak directly to the COVID-19 virus. What inspired your poem?

T: My inspiration for my poem was that i used to go to my Nan's every weekend. When the first lockdown happened i couldn't and it broke me. I struggled to eat, I wouldn't come out of my room and I hated Covid for what it was doing to my life. So, I wrote everything on a page! At first it was nothing then I worked on it for a couple of days and I felt free. For the first time in weeks I came out of my room to show my parents.

"The world has been put behind bars , We can’t hug can’t kiss can only miss ,The future of loved ones is at risk"

UN: Your poem powerfully captures how many of us felt about the impact of the pandemic on their lives. What key message would you like readers to take away?

T: The key thing is, yes covid took away a lot of things. It ripped families apart, it destroyed us but we made it. My poem speaks facts. It takes your bad memories and makes it real. We made it and if we could make it through a 2 year lockdown we can make it through anything!

UN: What tips would you give young people who want to write a poem but don’t know where to start?

T: We are always told to write the title first. Forget it, close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax and dig deep. What ever you're feeling write it down! Doesn't matter if it's in the right order just focus on writing it down and sort the rest out later. It will come to you. Just dig for it.

Forget it, close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax and dig deep. What ever you're feeling write it down!

UN: Was there anything you learned from being a part of the Utopia/Dystopia Now project?

T: I learn that there are amazing people out there. You just have to have the patience to find them and never to give up because your voice is worth it. Your voice is precious no matter if it was from a few years ago, It's still worth something.

UN: At the Utopia Now launch event you spoke about how important it was for people to still have freedom of choice and can make decisions about their lives without being forced into them. Why do you think it is important for scientists to consider how their work affects people’s freedom and agency?

T: It is extremely important for you to have a choice. You should have the freedom to put what ever you want in your body and it be okay and not be judged for your choices. With the Covid-19 vaccine i believe scientists, the news and the government have been forcing people to take the vaccine to protect “others”. They recently came out and said its to protect yourself as it lessens your symptoms. The truth is I can decide whether or not I want to put something in MY body that can protect me! And I should not be judged because i choose a different path than others. We need to have people who don't take the vaccine to see if the vaccine works.

UN: What three things do you think can help to make the world a better place for young people?

T: A safe space for all. No more trying to compete with everyone and everything. Not everyone has the same opinion as you. It's okay to have a different opinion it's how the world goes round. Make your life your life and no one else. Enjoy it and live!

Read Tiny Cingoz' poem 'Covid-19' in our anthology 'This is the Year'


Bio: Hi my name is Tiny, I'm 17 and i wrote covid-19. My passions are writing and photography. Doing the Utopia Project has been awesome. I always say live for your dreams, if your dreams don't scare you then they ain't big enough!



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