Coming to a Close – #PandemicTales

Throughout the month of July, Daastan held the #PandemicTales or Tales From the Pandemic campaign. This was a series of interviews with authors about their experiences of the pandemic and lockdown. Daastan also held a short form poetry competition this month on the theme of the pandemic.

Interview With Damien Barr

The first interview that we carried out was a written interview with author and broadcaster Damien Barr. He gave us some great insights into the impact of the pandemic on the creative industry. He also discussed how his renowned literary salons were affected during this time. We discussed his viral tweet which made waves during lockdown and got a mention from Oprah. You can read the full interview here.

“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.” – Damian Barr (@Damian_Barr)

Discussion With Benjamin Zephaniah

Following this, we had the pleasure of talking with world famous poet, activist and author, Benjamin Zephaniah. We discussed his new book “Windrush Child” and his new television show Life and Rhymes, both of which came out during lockdown. He also touched on the Black Lives Matter movement and opened up about his own cousin’s tragic death. We also talked about nature, authenticity and he gave some invaluable tips and tricks for budding poets.


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Interview With Ruth Allen

We then interviewed psychotherapist and author Ruth Allen, as part of our #PandemicTales campaign. We discussed her new book “Grounded” and the idea of reconnecting with nature. She also touched on abuses of nature, isolation vs solitude and the role that social media has played in Ruth’s life over the past year and a half. As Ruth is a therapist, it was fascinating to get her thoughts on the pandemic from a mental health perspective.


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In Conversation with Keston Sutherland

Later on in the campaign, we had a chat with poet and professor of poetics, Keston Sutherland. Keston discussed his new book “Scherzos Benjyosos” and its links with lockdown and finding clarity in a time of chaos. He also touched on his writing processes and how these have been affected. And the way his creativity has been stunted, but his academic work has thrived. It was interesting to hear how even the most successful creative, has struggled for inspiration during the pandemic.


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Final Interview with Oana Aristide

Finally we had the pleasure of interviewing Oana Aristide for our #PandemicTales campaign. We discussed her wonderful debut novel “Under The Blue” and its parallels to the real life pandemic. She talked about the environment and Britain and Greece’s responses to the pandemic. We also talked philosophy, Artificial Intelligence and her novel’s pressing message.


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#PandemicTales Poetry Competition

As part of this campaign, we also ran a short form poetry competition to showcase the creativity which has emerged from the pandemic. The competition ran from the 12th July to the 27th July. We asked people to write on 3 categories which were:

  • Nature
  • Mental Health
  • Relationships

You can find the details of the competition here. We received some great entries and everyone really entered into the spirit of the campaign. The entries were both raw and heartfelt. The winners of this competition will be announced on Daastan’s social media in the coming week, so keep an eye out for the results here. The winners will have their work published in an eBook that will be made available worldwide.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in the Tales From the Pandemic campaign this month. Here at Daastan, we have been blown away by the amount of support we have received on this project. We would again like to thank all the authors who took part in our interview series. Also a big thank you to those people that sent in their entries to our poetry competition.

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