Born in Lockdown

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Pub Date 08 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 15 Aug 2021

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Poets have always had the capability to travel inward – to create something out of the chaos of their inner world.

It is why poetry is said to be cathartic, for through it, the poet eases himself of his burdens.

But beyond that, poetry is also a tool for reflection. Oh, poetry cannot be stuffed into a single purpose for it is the expression of human emotions in line and verse, in styles and forms, rhymes and metres. And so, it acts has a way for the poet to transmit what he sees, thinks and feels in his inner world, those abstractions, into something tangible.

Stuck at home in the loud silence inflicted by a lockdown, where does the poet turn to? What does he turn to? His inner world?

Tolu’ Akinyemi’s Born in Lockdown is a collection of poetry birthed in such a traverse. The poems explore the pandemic and lockdown, and the myriad feelings, effects and reactions it birthed.

The collection begins with a declaration of the poet’s utter despair:

There is a pandemic in my head,

raging like boiling water.

There is a war in my mind,

tugging at the deepest part of my soul.

There is a thunderstorm in my heart,

wreaking havoc like it is doomsday.

At each flip of the page, you come across poems that are either personal or reflective, or poems that are querying in tone. On how the pandemic disrupts intimacy, Tolu’ wrote:

Your love in my heart was innocent

and untainted

until COVID crept in

and the veil of deceit was lifted.

What’s appealing about this collection is the simplicity of Tolu’s style and the softness of his metaphors. His similes and imagery are like the vivid strokes of an artist on canvas; they’re not ambiguous. You read lines like:

The silence in this house is eating me up like termites ravaging wood.

This is poetry – minimalist, yet pronounced in what the poet was able to use simple words to achieve.

In this collection, Tolu’ has proven himself a master of language, using words to weave moods and emotions. You oscillate between the heaviness of loneliness to the grief of a wrecked relationship to the hope of vaccines that will save the world. This collection promises you a titillating experience.

Poets have always had the capability to travel inward – to create something out of the chaos of their inner world.

It is why poetry is said to be cathartic, for through it, the poet eases himself of...

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Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

“The wall of remembrance holds up watertight memories –  of lives tossed by the whims and caprices of unstable men.“ This was really interesting to read. It’s the first time I’ve read something about a major event while said event was still happening (aside from news articles lol). I really love some of these poems, but some of them felt lacking. There was a general inconsistency to the quality of the poems. I also felt like the word pandemic was used a few too many times, it started to make me cringe after a while, but maybe that was point yk, like the actual pandemic. I like how some of the poems touched on the politics of COVID rather than just the social impacts.

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What a beautiful read. It came across so powerful, making me feel all the emotions. This collection of poetry hits hard, it shows the reality of the pandemic. Shows issues some people may not have had. Amazing job on this!

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The trials and hardships of Covid lockdown are all too recognisable in this satisfying volume of poetry by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi - the silence, the boredom, the stress and uncertainty. A narrative theme can be discerned throughout the verses; strained marriages, financial difficulties and loss - all recognisable fallout from the pandemic. Akinyemi also touches on the political consequences and “anti-vax” conspiracy theories. Not your average subjects for poetry, I grant you, but it all works. Poems vary in length and effectiveness but one very powerful poem is entitled “F*ck - F*cking 2020” which begins - “How do we scrub 2020 from our history books? How do we f*ck it off as a one-off?” This is followed by a short declaration of intent called simply “F*ck 2020” which consists of just these two lines - “Rollback the years, f*ck twenty-twenty. Wipe out the scars that blurred the year.” Some of the best poems are short, brutal verbal assaults, while others are longer but no less bruising. “Passports” in particular resonated with me - “My left arm carries so much weight and immunity.” Been there, done that. As you would expect, several poems contain (and often repeat) the word “pandemic”. To my ears, this sounds like the least poetically versatile word ever. It is neither lyrical nor elegant; but maybe that’s the point. Sometimes it works, as in the case of “Stories” - “Paint this pandemic what it was - a sordid misadventure” This doesn’t harm the poems themselves, but it becomes rather repetitive. But then I suppose we’re all sick of that particular word. Nobody has ever published a book of poetry entirely filled with superb odes, but while this volume has its share of unsuccessful poems, there are enough to make it a worthwhile read. I think Akinyemi is a better poet when he’s angry. He cuts very close to the bone at times and the world of lockdown he evokes will be painfully familiar to everyone. These poems are a worthy and satisfying record of one of the hardest years in human history.

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"don't rewrite this as a one-off. never sugar-coat this with any feel-good vibes." wowowow. born in lockdown showcases all of our inner feelings as we went through the covid-19 pandemic. at times, it felt like akinyemi was taking the world out of my head. what an incredible book of poems from an incredible talent.

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Born In Lockdown by @tolutoludo In this pandemic, we are all struggling TOGETHER! And, trust me this is the book I’d like to suggest anyone I know personally or virtually! This book is a collection of poems and proses, moreover a reflection of what’s going on and happening worldwide. This book simply explores the pandemic situation, lockdown, countless feelings, effects and reactions the virus birthed. It also, portrayed even in this time how politics and businesses are tampering with us. “Rich becoming richer, poor poorer.” The author once again proved how to artistically plays with words, metaphors which will touch your moods and emotions. He writes so well! I don’t want to blurt out more and be a spoiler. Because I myself hate spoilers. Must say, this one is an interesting read. I loved reading this book because of the pattern the author choose to write them. He not only wrote on a specific subject but about all of them how he managed to write with different point of views. This book is the ideal book for year 2020, cursed year. I don’t if my review justified enough to the book but I tried to. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own. Thank you @netgalley and @theroaringlionnewcastle @booksgosocialgroup for the #arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Oh my goodness the hype on the book Facebook pages was justified. Not sure if it is because I have long covid for 16 months and counting, but I cried whilst reading this. Have recommended this to my book club. I was given an advance copy by the publishers and netgalley but the review is entirely my own opinion.

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This was a great reflective tool as we try to get back to “normal”. It provided thought provoking points to think back about my time during the pandemic from the perspectives of my various family members. I wish the book dove into more specific details and deep emotions but maybe that was the point…to start the process and allow the reader to fill in the blank for themself.

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I'm not normally one to read poetry, but I saw this available and had to see. I ended up reading it twice, raced through it quickly and then went back to read each individual piece again. Amazingly resonant of the multitude of emotions behind the pandemic. A must read for anyone, particularly those still struggling with the last 18 months.

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"The whole world was united in grief." I loved this collection - such simple lines and verses that manage to convey such complex emotions. Serving as a monument to the devastation wrought by the virus, the ravages of COVID on the individual, families, and the world are explored deeply within these pages, and the author's pain and heartache through the trials of the pandemic are profoundly evident in each poem. The book is poignant and timely in its relevance and can be understood and appreciated by all who were touched by the virus - that is, everyone. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book of poetry in exchange for an honest review.

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It has been a while since I picked up a book of poetry and this book reminded me why I enjoyed studying it so many years ago. Each piece simple in its own right, yet evoked emotions and memories of the last 18 months and was so relatable. It was as if the poet was in my mind in certain moments throughout the pandemic. Certain poems were particular poignant for me - 'Boredom - These antidepressants no longer work; They don't understand the language of quarantine and isolation', 'Not The End - these variants know no colour', ' Survivors - The paranoia of COVID sends us into a dark hole', 'COVID Survivor - Our lives were clouded with loneliness, chilling fear and untimely deaths'. This book holds an experience endured by all during 2020/2021 and I would recommend everyone to read it. In years to come when I have children and I tell them about the pandemic, I would refer back to this poetry to help tell the story of how it impacted on so many lives. Thank you to the poet for such powerful writing.

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The second I closed this collection of poetry, I wanted to turn back to page one and read it all over again. Covid (and 2020) is something our generation will always share, and this is a simple reminder of the rollercoaster of feelings and emotions we all went through as the news changed daily. It’s not over yet, but one day this will be history, and this book will make for a wonderful record to be referenced. Raw and genuine, this is a collection of poems everyone should read.

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It has been over a year since lockdowns started and we are now starting to read the words of those who are writing about their experiences, our experiences, of going through this pandemic. Akinyemi gives a voice to all of these experiences. These poems are raw and touch on so many aspects of how this virus has impacted our lives. Each poem feels like it is coming from a different person. What have we taken from our experiences in this pandemic? How can we characterize this time period for future generations when they will study us? What will our children learn about the era of COVID-19? What do we want to remember? What do we want to forget? This little book of poems answers these questions and reminds us of our experiences. This is a book that I will come back to again, and this is a book that anyone should read so they never forget.

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All of us can relate to how 2020 changed our lives. The good, the bad, the pure evil. This collection of poetry is powerful, insightful, gut wrenching, challenging and hopeful. If you enjoy poetry you just may fall for this collection. Each poem is unique and opens us up more to how this world event has altered our lives. No matter which aspect spoke to you: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, lockdown, hospitals, tests, death, recovery, getting the jab, etc you will find something that will resonate with you. This poetry collection inspires me to continue writing my own poetry. Yes, the main topic is not a pleasant one, but it seems most of the time that poetry is birthed out of hardship. Yes, romantic, cute poems exist, but we usually gorge ourselves on the more dramatic, sad, weepy lines. I received my complimentary digital copy of Born In Lockdown by Tolu A. Akinyemi from BooksGoSocial, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. I don’t usually read poetry, but this is an author I’m going to keep an eye out on for any new content. I definitely want to read his other works. Thank you NetGalley for helping me discover a new favorite author.

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As the pandemic still rages on, I believe this book could relate to a lot of people that have dealt with the side effects of COVID-19; of losing someone, of knowing someone who has gone through it, job less, etc. I would read this again and would save this for history books.

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Raw feelings and emotions. I felt I could connect with everything I read as though the author was reading my mind.

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This is a vey unique poetry book that the reader simply cannot put down. This is a a series of snapshots of the time of COVID and everything that was a part of that - both the terrible parts and the parts that were not too bad. This book seems like a quick read and it is, but it is also very real about the struggles that most people faced during the pandemic and the lockdowns. The author wrote about the vaccine, the struggles that families and others that lived together went through when there was no opportunity to hide or leave the other person/people. I think that in the future this is going to be a unique historical piece that really lays out just what the COVID pandemic and lockdown did and meant to the people going through it.

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