2020 made us change how we interact with our world. The pandemic forced us indoors, behind the windows of our homes. These windows have allowed us to daydream, to process what it means to be apart, to make sense of many unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings.
The experience inspired Harry Meakin, a designer at Clout Branding to design a book of poetry which captures people's views during the lockdown, literally and metaphorically. Beyond the Pane brings together 20 poems, from published poets, professional writers, teachers, florists and sculptors with contributions from Nick Asbury, Poppy Collier, Jim K Davies, Lesley Ingram, Christopher James, Elizabeth Facer, Anthony Sprouse, and more.
Each contributor was set the brief of writing a poem about their lockdown experience and supplying a photo of their view through a window that was then illustrated. A selection of 20 poems was chosen and illustrated for the final version.
"I was keen to give the book a purpose beyond poetry," says Harry. "It reflects our struggles, anxiety and longing for normality. The hope is that people can take comfort in the words knowing that although we are far apart, we are all in this together."
"One of the main inspirations for the book was my dad. After losing my mum, he has struggled with his mental health. Being isolated has only made things worse."
"He is by no means a professional writer, but has used poetry as a way to escape, to get the thoughts out of his head and onto paper."
Harry approached Platfform, a mental health charity to see if they'd be interested in endorsing the project. They jumped on board straight away, before Harry launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce the book which ended up raising £3500.
On the artwork, the creatives tell us that he wanted each illustration to capture the writer's mood and personality whilst also looking quite stark, allowing the power of the words to allow readers to reflect on their experiences.
"I also wanted the illustration style to play on the idea of each poem being crafted at home, so using just pencil and paper seemed fitting."
One poem, Walk On by Jim K Davies, is an ode to the author's ginger cocker spaniel Ziggy.
"Walking him brought a structure to our day," says Jim. "He gave us unconditional love even when we were grumpy and depressed about what was going on. He needed attention and looking after. Having a dog gave us an anchor and a sense of perspective. So I decided to do a Paul Auster and write the poem from Ziggy's point of view."
"As a dog, I'm sure he's not alone in spending hours gazing out the window at birds and dogs and humans, pressing his face against the glass, with a desperate urge to get out there and run around. Just like we were (and are)."
The 44pp perfect bound book was printed by Taylor Brothers in Bristol on GFSmith papers and finished with a blind deboss to cover. Copies are still available to purchase via here; as the book is now printed, all profits will be going directly to Platfform minus the postage cost.