Back in March, when the world seemed to have lost its way, a group of friends – women – mothers – writers – got together over Zoom to provide comfort to one another and to try to make sense of it all.
Alice, Chrissie, Maddy, Nikki, Renee and Sophie – talked about their concerns, fears, hopes and dreams, but it was only natural that being the writers they are, they would inevitably turn to words as a way of processing how they really felt about the situation.
And write they did. And before they knew it, this collection of words became a lockdown project of its own out of which came: Heartbreak and Hope – Voices of a Pandemic.
Grief but not as we’ve known it. A bird in a cage and a magical wishing horse. Panic attacks, supermarket trips and high expectations. Sex, love and loneliness in solitude. Envisioned futures worth hoping for?
Sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes sad and sometimes wistful, this collection of 20 pieces of poetry and prose, real life and fiction is shot through with love and humanity. The first publication of our not-for-profit Birch Moon Press, ‘Heartache and Hope’ gathers a range of women’s voices on life under lockdown.
Extending the submission to a writing group to which we all belong meant suddenly, the reality of the impact of the lockdown on women became much clearer and stronger. It also became clear that not only did this need to be published, it had a higher purpose; written by women, to provide comfort to other women, perhaps it should also serve to support women too.
That’s when it was decided the published anthology would support women’s charity, Rosa.
Rosa funds and supports small specialist women’s organisations across the UK, most of which operate on a shoestring to provide vital services to women. The economic and social impact of coronavirus is having a significant impact on these organisations’ stretched resources. Many are experiencing a huge influx in demand from women who need their support, but they are also experiencing internal challenges of their own.
How would you sum up your lockdown experience in three words?
That’s a question we asked as part of the launch celebrations for the Heartbreak and Hope anthology. As I said at the launch, when asked to think about what my words would be, three things went through my mind: there are not enough words, there are too many words and at times, no words. In the end, I went for:
Surreal, Precipitous and Unsettling.
I don’t think they need an explanation and I’m sure you can relate to many of the words chosen by those who were kind enough to share them with us.
So, there it was. This little lockdown project became an anthology published by independent publisher, Birch Moon Press.
The Birch Moon is the first month in the Celtic calendar running from December 24th – just after the winter solstice – to January 20th. It is a time of new beginnings, of re-birth and regeneration, of planning for the future and embracing new potentials and opportunities.
Arising from the pain and grief of the pandemic, Birch Moon Press is that new beginning – that possibility, that opportunity the birch moon traditionally represents.
The book is available to download from the Birch Moon Press website, with 100% of the profits going to Rosa. We would love it if you could support our cause.