Poetry: Reading Tennyson on Pandemic Days -Malachi Edwin Vethamani

An introduction to the poem by the poet

The poem presents a situation where all around the world people are doing one form or another of counting. Numbers have come into the foreground in our pandemic days. As I was becoming more and more aware of how random numbers began to affect our lives in unexpected ways, I decided to write a poem that would reflect both the despairing  and hopeful feelings oscillating within us with regards to these numbers.

While writing this poem I became very conscious of Tennyson’s melancholy and how his poems often moved from despair to that of faith and hope. I decided I would intersperse the stanzas in my poem with lines from various Tennyson poems to heighten the effect on the numbers and their connotations. I believe the intertextuality in the poems takes the poem to a new dimension.

 About the Poet

Malachi Edwin Vethamani is a poet, writer, critic and bibliographer. He is currently Professor of Modern English Literature at the School of English, University of Nottingham Malaysia.  His publications include: ‘Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories’ (2018), two collections of poems, ‘Life Happens’ (Maya Press, 2017) and ‘Complicated Lives’ (Maya Press, 2016). He published an edited volume of Malaysian poems entitled ‘Malchin Testament: Malaysian Poems’ (Maya Press, 2017) and his latest publication is an edited volume of short stories entitled ‘Ronggeng-Ronggeng: Malaysian Short Stories’ (Maya Press, 2020).

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