Episode 32: Adele Cordner – Poems from the pandemic

Black and white portrait of poet Adele Cordner
Photo by Pixels in time

Adele Cordner’s debut collection The Kitchen Sink Chronicles was written in the last year. It captures the fear, uncertainty and strangeness of lockdown while also finding moments of hope, resilience and joy.

Adele shares some poems from the book and offers an exercise to write poems of hope and resilience in response to the poem Swallow Chick below. They do not have to be about the pandemic but we can all do with some more positive and hopeful poems at this time. I hope you will be inspired to write something and share it. Please send submissions here.

The book is illustrated by Adele’s daughter, Florence Cordner, including this image from the poem Swallow Chick.

Swallow Chick by Florence Cordner

Swallow Chick

23rd April 2020

I ache for my daughter through these lockdown days
wandering the garden, taking photos on my phone
of first daffs then roses to send to her,

when, suddenly, there she is, my swallow chick
perched high on the aerial, so proud to be home.
I’d recognise those bright eyes anywhere.

Last June, I found her helpless on the garage floor,
her nest a mess of soil and feathers around her,
her parents darting frantically about my head.

I was nervous, but I knew she needed me,
cupped her heart in my hands and placed her
gently in a tree, her elders shrieking all the while.

But, straightaway, she launched herself to the ground,
hopped around my feet, brave and unaware
of the lurking cats anticipating a snack.

I stored her safe in a shoe box while I built a little cot,
gathering leaves, petals, feathers from her nest,
then tucked her up high on a garage shelf.

But, in moments, she was out again, put back
again and again, for days and days, until, at last,
from beam to beam, and out, she flew!

Now, she is back, sleek plumes, colours deepened,
tail feathers long and strong.
What was it like, Africa? I’ve never been.

As I take her photo, I imagine her there,
independent, exploring savannahs with her kind,
and the old, now familiar, ache returns.

Adele Cordner

The Kitchen Sink Chronicles is available from Adele’s website. Profits from copies purchased via this link will go to Crohn’s & Colitis UK, a charity close to Adele’s heart. www.adelecordner.com

The Kitchen Sink Chronicles, published by Hedgehog Press in 2021, is Adele’s first poetry collection. It charts her experience of the first six months of the Covid Pandemic. Adele’s poetry has been placed in many international poetry competitions including Poetry on the Lake, The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize and The Welsh Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in Red Poets Magazine and various anthologies including Ways To Peace and Poems For Grenfell Tower. She has also won poetry prizes in both Abergavenny and Upper Chapel Eisteddfods. Adele recently gained an MA (Distinction) in Scriptwriting from Bath Spa University. She is a member of Chepstow NaCOT and Newport Stanza poetry workshops, and a performer and director for Newport Playgoers Society and Everyman Theatre Cardiff. She also sings with The Singing Club in Chepstow. Adele, who was born in Newport, is a mum of four children and now lives in rural Monmouthshire, South Wales.

Illustration by Florence Cordner

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast can be purchased via the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.