Unprecedented is a word that seems to be on everyone’s lips at the minute due to the very strange time we find ourselves living in. 2020 is a year that’s thrown previously unimaginable things at us all and it’s been a year of horror, bewilderment, separation, and loss. It’s hard not to look at the events unfolding around us and find ourselves in a very dark place. However, amidst the darkness and despair, there have been flashes of light, love, and possibilities of connecting with one another in new ways. One of these sparks and sources of inspiration for me personally have been found in literature, in the works of the Brontës, and in the connections I have with other Brontëites across the globe.
One of the ways in which I have made these connections is through Brontë Babe Blog and for that I am truly grateful. Another way of connecting with fellow Brontë fans is via social media, however, it’s become an increasingly toxic place in 2020. Because of this, rather than quitting, I took a little break earlier this year and when I returned I made the decision to use it to cerebrate the things I love, and to seek out others who do the same in the hope of spreading some positive vibes. I also just love any excuse to talk about the Brontës and discover the many ways in which they are continuing to inspire people in their life and work.
In particular I love discovering new works of Brontë inspired literature and over the past few years I’ve tracked down amazing new spins on the Brontë juvenilia, wonderful historical fiction, and outstanding poetry. My latest discovery is a collection of poems inspired by the Brontës and the COVID-19 lockdown. There Was No Possibility of Taking a Walk That Day: A Collection of Poems from the 2020 COVID-19 Lockdown is an anthology of poems by different authors from across the world who were brought together by their love of the Brontës in a Facebook group named A Walk Around the Brontë Table. I’m glad to be a member of this group myself as over the past few years, its members have spread positivity and celebrated all things Brontë. It’s a place where we can share our thoughts, ideas, and works ranging from art to poems, novels, and blogs.
There are a few professional/published authors in the bunch and many aspiring, and they came together to create this beautiful and unique collection. Combining lockdown and the Brontës may seem strange to some but the family suffered great tragedy and losses, which, initially may well have strengthened their bonds and helped to inspire them. The threat of illness and the shadow of death played such a huge part in their lives, and for most people, we have never experienced anything like this until 2020. The Brontës’ work may well have been a platform for channeling some of this loss and sadness along with some of the joys they experienced, and the dreams they shared and, in some cases, saw realised. Similarly, the authors in There Was No Possibility of Taking a Walk That Day appear have done the same. Like the authors who penned the pieces, the collection is diverse and features short poems, longer poems, translated poems, pieces inspired by the Brontës’ lives, works, and the landscapes they loved, and there are poems which poignantly merge the past and the present.
What is unique about this collection is that There Was No Possibility of Taking a Walk That Day gave all of the authors the chance to do something most never thought possible, to see their names in print. I don’t mean to suggest that this somehow validates their work, but rather it enables them to share it on a wider scale, and this is something the Brontës themselves aspired to do. As children they played at being authors in the fantasy worlds they created, and dreamed of not just seeing their names in print, but of just being able to write for the pleasure of writing. The composition of and reaction to this collection has truly brought people together and solidified existing connections.
I enjoyed every poem in this collection because although they all have something to say about lockdown and the Brontës, they all have something different to say, and each author has their own voice in which to say it. I loved reading pieces by my social media friends, my lovely blog readers, and those whose posts I read regularly in A Walk Around the Brontë Table. It would be unfair to single pieces out, but yes, I do have my favourites. I plan to return to some of these poems on an individual basis in the near future because there were some I just loved so much.
I did note that once again, Branwell’s work continues to be under-represented, along with the juvenilia more generally. However, I’m hoping to put this right with my own piece in the group’s next collection. It will be finished this week. I swear.
There Was No Possibility of Taking a Walk That Day: A Collection of Poems from the 2020 COVID-19 Lockdown demonstrates that Brontë fans are an amazing group of people who continue to find inspiration even in the darkest of times, and a group that have become, in many ways, a modern literary family. We are three sisters? No, we are one big family.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019)
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
By Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you stopped by The Journal of Juvenilia Studies where you can read my essay, “Autobiography, Wish-Fulfilment, and Juvenilia. The ‘Fractured Self’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Paracosmic Counterworld”.
Please do not copy, share, or use the images from this post without seeking permission first.