A poet’s lucid journey through covid-19’s ‘jaws of hell’. Alwyn, feeling the pressure of ‘the whole world’s misery’, has no time for self-pity, but documents in vivid language every stage of her descent into the covid inferno and her difficult ascent back to life with its ‘silver skein of startling happiness’ and the simple joy of ‘a day spent with you in the garden’, ending with a message of hope.
Gabriel Griffin, Poetry on the Lake
The poems of Alwyn Marriage in this collection chronicle the twelve months of the terrible Covid-19 pandemic that not only left her with the draining symptoms of long Covid, but tragically took the life of her dearly-loved brother. In matter-of-fact style and with clear-eyed rationality, sometimes spilling over into heartfelt emotion, Alwyn Marriage depicts the rollercoaster ride of illness and eventual recovery. Her deeply considered poetry, in its thoughts on mortality and survival, cuts through all cant and pomposity to describe the daily ravages of this devastating disease. This is brave work from one who has been through the fire, and whose words now express her gratitude for life restored.
Peter Ualrig Kennedy, Poetry Wivenhoe
Pandora’s Pandemic presents us with a species of post-viral plainchant, thoroughly demotic and unadorned. This is plain speech in service of catharsis, intent on documenting the private realities and multiple bereavements of Coronavirus.
A reader wrote to say: The poems are wonderful. You have captured our universal experience of the pandemic, rather as the young war poets did … It’s a huge achievement.
Sue Wallace-Shaddad reviewed Pandora’s Pandemic for London Grip in November 2021.
An interview with Alwyn about Pandora’s Pandemic was published by Write out Loud in July 2021.
“Mention of Pandora had me expecting something nasty, which was straightaway realised with an accounting of her personal symptoms and effects of Covid-19. Thankfully followed by a recounting of Alwyn’s lengthy recovery. The majority of the poems oddly without despair, even celebrating the masked distance that had to be kept – ‘Despite two metres distance, this is not the end / of human interaction…’ Two metres distance. She also celebrates some of the pandemic’s side effects – the absence of noisy traffic, clean skies, the increasing enjoyment by many of the natural world, the welcome break for some from their life’s routines.
“All feels very familiar. In a tightly controlled rhyme scheme she has an old friend telling her Covid tale, what happened in her street and how her friends and relatives coped. And didn’t. There’s anger here too at the powers-that-be that didn’t know quite what to do.
“Although she did take some pleasure in the new normal, she is not looking forward to a return to the old. Meanwhile her poems accurately reflect each and every convalescent symptom, Weepy capturing perfectly the propensity of the weary to tears. An important record of a woeful time, Alwyn’s particular Covid experience could as easily be everywoman’s. Aside from the year-round swimming: I count that as peculiar to Alwyn.”
Sam Smith, The Journal #65, 2022