How Lockdown Inspired Poems On The Gate Post

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Olivia Mulligan, poet, Poems On The Gate Post, on The Table Read

Written by Olivia Mulligan

Poems On The Gate Post

I certainly never imagined that lockdown would turn me into a ‘published poet.’ In April 2020, during the Covid-19 Lockdown, whilst I was shielding, my Mother suggested that I write a poem each day inspired by the self isolation. She suggested that we then display each day’s poem at the end of the drive on the gatepost for passers by to read. “It might make people smile,” she said.   

A Poem A Day

I agreed to the challenge because, let’s be honest, what else was I doing? I had already re-arranged my sock drawer three times that week and it was only Tuesday. Or was it Wednesday? Anyway, I didn’t have a good enough excuse to not agree.

Olivia Mulligan, poet, Poems On The Gate Post, on The Table Read

I decided to leave a phone number for people to text in suggestions for topics for the following day’s poem, so the whole village could feel part of the project too.   

I then took on the ‘Daily Poem’ task quite literally as that, ‘a task.’ Something to do to fill the time.   

Poems On The Gate Post

However, as the days went by and as the collection grew, it has become so much more than that. Writing these poems became the highlight of my day. And hearing from the residents of the village, many who I had never spoken to before, telling me how much joy they receive from reading them – I owe both my Mother and the 2020 Lockdown experience a huge thank you.   

The book, Poems On The Gate Post is now available worldwide in paperback, hardcover and ebook.  

Advice From A Stranger

Since Poems On The Gate Post, I have gone onto release my second book, Advice From A Stranger. Here I asked 70 strangers to give me their one piece of life advice… I would then use each response as inspiration to write my next poem…  

The youngest stranger I asked was six years old. The oldest stranger was eighty-something. 

 Some were asked in the queue at the supermarket or the post office. One time I asked the waiter at a restaurant. I also asked, Joanne, on the phone, who was trying to sell me car insurance. 

 My favourite? It’s hard to choose. “Don’t tie your shoelace in a revolving door” said by a chap called Russell was a corker. 

“Spend time with the people you love” said to me by Nicole, aged nine, on a particular day when I was feeling alone, really pulled on my heart strings. 

And then “Make every day count” said by Matt, was a particular fond memory. I met this stranger in a woodland car park. I had just been for a run, caked in mud and had (lord knows how) locked myself out of my car. This stranger, Matt, drove me home to collect my spare keys and then drove me all the way back to the car. He was an incredibly kind man. Like any good road trip, you can get to know someone’s character rather well. Of course, with conversation flowing, I had to ask him for his life advice. 

Siren Stories Books

Continuing To Write

Book number three is well under way! What a couple of years it has been… I now have a weekly slot on BBC Radio York, sharing a new poem every Saturday. I also run poetry workshops and have done a few poetry performances – including Ripon Poetry Festival & The Deer Shed Festival. 

Reviews For Olivia Mulligan

“Olivia Mulligan has done a great job of turning isolation into art; here are poems that speak to us all about how the everyday can be transformed by heightened language, and that a kind of transcendence can happen if we just stare hard enough at real life.”
Ian McMillan – Poet, Writer, TV and Radio Presenter  

“Olivia captures life in lockdown beautifully. These verses are full to the brim with kindness, heart and just the right amount of absurdity.” 
Harry Whittaker – BBC Radio York, Co-Author of The Guardian Angels Series  

“Seldom has any poet or writer been capable of piercing gloom in such an entertaining, humorous and insightful way. This is a modern classic, a masterpiece for our time, and for times to come.” 
Mark Thompson – Author of ‘DUST’  

“Poems on the Gate Post is a tonic: the perfect companion to curl up with to both forget about and reflect about the world around you. An ingenious use of lockdown, Olivia’s style is infectious, with an easy joy and brimming with heart.”
Max May – Director and CEO, Rural Arts  

“Poetry Gold.” 
Joanita Musisi – BBC Radio York  

Find More From Olivia Mulligan:

BBC Radio York’s Poet Laureate 

Latest book: Advice From A Stranger 

Facebook: Olivia Mulligan Poetry​

Instagram: Liv_Mulligan_Poet​

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