People's Vote videos: we talk to Gabriella, Olivia and Kirsty from BBC's Casualty

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Write Out Loud is grateful for the support of BBC Casualty producer Dafydd Llewellyn and actors Gabriella Leon, Kirsty Mitchell and Olivia D'Lima, all poetry lovers, in backing our competition to raise funds for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Gabriella, Olivia, and Kirsty are reading competition poems that have been shortlisted for our People’s Vote in videos that will be unveiled on Saturday, when the People's Vote is launched.  

 

Gabriella Leon, who plays Jade Lovell in the drama, is a deaf actor/writer and deviser seeking to change attitudes and misconceptions in the industry around disabilities, visible and invisible. She loves writing and reading poetry, especially the work of Sylvia Plath and Rupi Kaur.

 

Thanks for reading our introductory poem at the start of our Beyond the Storm competition, as well as taking part in our People’s Choice videos. Have you come across any other poetry that has affected you during this pandemic and lockdown?

My pleasure! I have been reading She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women, edited by Women' by Ana Sampson. It's a lovely collection of poems from well-loved poets to more modern voices. They are the voices of suffragettes to schoolgirls, from spoken word superstars to civil rights activists. Would really recommend it to anyone who needs a little empowerment, and uplifting- it's definitely getting me through lockdown.

 

How have you been affected personally during lockdown? Has it changed the way you look at the world?

Everyone has been affected on so many levels, this really feels like a reset button. I definitely will treasure the time spent seeing friends and family more, and doing anything like going to a restaurant, gallery or museum spontaneously!

 

Do you think poetry itself has played an important part during lockdown? How important is it in your life? I know you like both Sylvia Plath and Rupi Kaur, two very different poets?

Any art form including poetry is wonderful for improving people's mental health and maintaining a positive well-being. It's very therapeutic, more people are turning to the arts to get them through this difficult time. Poetry has always been a big part of my life as a means of release and relaxation. I love writing it and reading new voices. Sylvia Plath and Rupi Kaur are my favourite because of the honesty in their words. They're unapologetic and scared of nothing.

 

embedded image from entry 101961 London-born Olivia D'Lima's work in theatre, film and TV has also led her to writing, which she finds to be an incredible creative outlet and way of creating more work within the industry. She co-founded 'PLUG IN', a bi-monthly comedy night where female and non-binary stand-ups, actors and poets can perform.

 

Thanks for reading our introductory poem at the start of our Beyond the Storm competition, as well as taking part in our People’s Choice videos. Have you come across any other poetry that has affected you during this pandemic and lockdown?

I'm so happy to be a part of your Beyond the Storm competition; it's an amazing way to allow art and creativity to directly benefit the NHS during this pandemic. What's lovely about the world at the moment is that although we are facing unbelievably unique hardships, people seem to want to come together and change things for the greater good - so I've been lucky to come across lots of poetry, mainly across social media, that has been beautiful. The tone of much of it has been 'togetherness'; whether it's been directly addressing lockdown or if it's been shedding light on the BLM movement, poetry has been an amazing way for people to open up and share experiences.

 

How have you been affected personally during lockdown? Has it changed the way you look at the world?

This time has absolutely changed the way I look at the world. We have all been affected in different ways and, like many people, I have had my fair share of emotional ups and downs. Whenever I had a bad day or felt claustrophobic being locked in I really had to check myself. I reminded myself that I'm not like the poor animals who have spent their lives in captivity and that I am in a wonderful position to be able to help others - hence why I'm championing this competition and why I'm on a journey from long-term vegetarianism to veganism. Art is an amazing outlet so I've been writing, watching a more-than-healthy amount of TV, educating myself on current movements and have started Tai chi - to be honest I've just tried to improve myself as a person, that way I can help others.

 

Do you think poetry itself has played an important part during lockdown? How important is it in your life? I know you co-founded a bi-monthly comedy night where female and non-binary stand-ups, actors and poets perform. Has it been able to function online during lockdown?

Poetry is such an accessible tool and, during this time especially, it has been really important because it's such a healthy outlet. I have enjoyed poetry in many forms and it has been an incredible instrument in reminding me that we are all in this together and that our experiences are shared. It is an amazing way to get others to check in with themselves and do a bit of soul-searching as well as channelling your own emotions to hopefully provide some comfort and relief. PLUG IN: Women Aren’t Funny (our comedy night) will still be going strong whenever live performances commence again! We adore the nights and luckily others enjoy it too so we can't wait to get started properly again. In the meantime, we've been trying to share funny videos and promote any online comedy nights we know of, especially if our previous performers are doing something.

 

embedded image from entry 101963 Glasgow-born Kirsty Mitchell, who plays Faith Cadogan, has a wealth of experience and awards as an actor, singer and vocal performer for video games. Her breakthrough acting performance was as Robert Duvall’s daughter in Shot at Glory (2000).

 

Thanks for reading our introductory poem at the start of our Beyond the Storm competition, as well as taking part in our People’s Choice videos. Have you come across any other poetry that has affected you during this pandemic and lockdown?

I haven’t read any new poetry yet during lockdown, but, like many others I have been cleaning out my cupboards and found a book of poetry I wrote as a teenager. Amongst the usual teenage angst, I found the root of all of my personal issues and fears that I have dealt with and struggled to decipher over the past 25 years.  I found an explanation for my emotional reflexes. It was eye-opening, sweet almost, to travel back in time, directly into my head space so long ago. 

 

How have you been affected personally during lockdown? Has it changed the way you look at the world?

I’ve never been one to take my life for granted , but I am guilty of getting very busy and not prioritising my family and friends over work and getting every errand done on time. I’ve spent time with my family in a way that I would never have had the time to do, in the normal ticking over of the world. I’m happy to see people care for those around them. Neighbours reaching out to help others .  We are extremely fragile as humans but look how strong we are when our aim is to protect each other.  We are, as a  world, all affected by the same tragic thing right now, but as heartbreaking as that is, there is also something uniting about knowing that every person we are surrounded by, every person we pass in the street or the store or the park, is going through the same struggle as us and we acknowledge that for each other.

May everyone forever remember the emergency services, the doctors, the nurses, the trash collectors, the shop workers, the people who kept everything running out there during our most frightening times.  The people who sacrificed for us, for the more fragile amongst us. I have more love in my heart for everyone, I just wish I could hug them! 

 

Do you think poetry itself has played an important part during lockdown? How important is it in your life?

I’m a songwriter, so poetry has always been part of my life, and my songs are basically poetry to music. I have used it to express myself for as long as I can remember. To reveal and to hide myself. 

I love to watch other people decipher the tangled word. I am so enthused by how we all interpret poetry differently in accordance with our own experiences and how effective it can be at helping us grow when it’s relative to our lives and our deepest thoughts.  It makes me feel that no matter what I’m going through in life, someone else has experienced it and expressed it. It makes me feel safer to know I’m not alone in my joy, my confusion or my pain. Someone else, somewhere in the world worked through it - and I will, too.

◄ Countdown to the People's Vote! Your chance to take part in the closing stage of Write Out Loud's poetry competition

Four-year-old boy who dictates poems to mum wins publishing deal ►

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