By Paola Mancini, November 2020
This week we caught up with Yorkshire poet Heath Common to discuss his recent work, ‘2 Covid Verses’ released in order to raise money for the NHS and how the pandemic is having an impact in the world of art.
What inspired you to release these lyrical pieces of poetry to raise money for the NHS? Where did this idea come from?
I released these lyrical pieces of poetry at the suggestion of Stephen Linstead a lecturer at York University. Following the death of a close friend of his to Covid, Stephen had the idea of compiling and subsequently publishing a poetry compilation featuring poets and lyricists he admired (Ralph McTell, Dame Margaret Drabble, Mike Harding, Ian McMillan etc etc) in order to raise money for the NHS in their fight against the pandemic. A great idea that’s proven to be a brilliant money-raiser!
How’s it going for you?
I’m told sales of the poetry compilation (entitled ‘Viral Verses’) are going extremely well. A great many people obviously identify with the cause.
“Powis Square at 4am” concerns a time in 1969 when you lived in Notting Hill Gate and how at the time Mick Jagger filming the movie “Performance” was struggling to “keep his head above water” – do you think this pandemic is having this impact for many people who can relate to what this is about?
Yeah – most definitely. For example, I have a great many friends – both young and old – who are currently struggling to find work at a time when seemingly everyone is applying for a single job vacancy. It’s the lack of any ‘hope’ out there which seems to be the main problem. Fewer and fewer people appear to think that there’s a future for them.
Reflecting on “When The Dog Bites The Monkey” -Do you think given the circumstances at the moment with the current pandemic that people are going to get fed up with all this uncertainty and start to protest?
I don’t think they might start to protest they already ARE starting to protest. There has clearly been a great deal of mismanagement and corrupt practice on the part of this government during the pandemic and when the people develop a lack of trust in their government that becomes a very fertile ground for the conspiracy merchants to emerge.
Do you feel as strongly to protest if things worsened?
I’m an optimist at heart and so I hope and pray that the emerging vaccines will work and subsequently everything will become calm and reconcile.
How do you feel the government have been handling the pandemic between Scotland and England?
I can answer that question by quoting a statistic from recent TV news items : surveys indicate that a much higher proportion of people in Scotland believe their government has handled the pandemic well compared with an equivalent number of people in England who were asked about how well they thought the English government had handled the situation.
Do you think we have had a lot of support from the NHS and our staff working on the front line since all this began?
Yes, I believe that there is massive popular support for the NHS and that this government has suddenly woken up to how important and essential the NHS is to this country. I believe that immediately before the Covid crisis the NHS was in danger of being sold off to ‘the money men’.
How do you think the NHS have been coping in these times and comparing it to countries where a service like the NHS may not be available?
I believe the NHS has been coping very well in extremely challenging circumstances. In fact, I believe that the NHS is a wonderful organisation. I have sometimes been ill whilst working as a musician in foreign countries (a particularly bad time in Russia) and believe me the medical treatment one receives abroad is very often a nightmare.
How do you feel about the hit that the music industry and the arts industry in general has been faced with because of covid-19?
I believe that the music and art industries have taken a massive hit from this pandemic. However, I cannot agree with the many people who claim that neither of those industries will ever recover because history proves that even in the most dire of circumstances, new art and music emerges lotus-like from the flames. Let’s just hope that’s the case once again.
Check out more of Heath’s work below…
Facebook – Heath Common