Mario Reijnen is an artist and composer and the creator of Coronagedicht.nl – an initiative to collect poetry written in response to the coronavirus and to bring attention to this novel virus in various ways. He talks to Cliffordene Norton about this website.
What inspired you to create Coronagedicht.nl?
I was following the news of corona more and more, since it was going beyond Wuhan and coming to Europe. In that time, I was sitting in my studio in the evenings. While looking at the coming outbreak and the very possible lockdown, I felt that I wanted to do something in the fields of my work – music, visual arts or poetry – with this.
At that time, I expected that what was before us would be bigger than anything most of us had ever dealt with before, and that art in any form would leave a remarkable print on what was experienced by people during the pandemic – and it would.
So, I thought that a specific (new) platform would be a means of bringing all of this together and creating alternative ways to share art, because events were forbidden due to the lockdown. At that time, I got in touch with Tsead Bruinja, Dichter des Vaderlands, about the idea of launching this website for collecting poetry during the corona timeframe. I am also involved with Poëziecentrum Nederland, and I got in touch with my co-workers there, too, about the idea. Both parties where very enthusiastic, and so we decided to make this platform.
You have received over 200 poems from 150 poets in the first two weeks. Do aspiring poets or established poets participate more on Coronagedicht.nl?
The number of established poets who have participated, especially in the beginning, is very high. There is a great mix of established and aspiring poets. Currently, the number of poems is more than 500, containing a great mix of both categories of poets.
What has the readers’ response been so far?
Readers (and writers) are very enthusiastic. We regularly get messages in the mailbox and comments under social media posts. They often mention that they like the initiative.
This is an unprecedented time in the world. How do you believe it will influence the arts?
As an artist myself in music, visual arts and poetry, I expected that there would be a significant response in all different forms of art – from both the art communities and the public who could get involved. I think that there will be a remarkable cultural footprint on the map of history left by art.
In both, new creative ways, or expressions it can show us refreshing ideas of how to deal with this situation now and afterwards. It can already be seen in the poems, too. There is a good tendency visible of what people value at a certain time, like during the quarantine.