World Poetry Day challenge: finding inspiration in isolation

Everything about life in the UK has changed in the past week, but culture, writing and humour have thrived as people find ways to stay entertained and help each other through challenging times. To mark World Poetry Day (21 March), Campaign asked adlanders to write poems on the theme of 'finding inspiration in isolation'.

The first fresh taste of work from home can seem like a rare treat

Though after several days of it you might feel less upbeat.

They say that Shakespeare’s strongest plays were written in seclusion

But modern tech will interrupt and add to the confusion.

There’s email floods, and video calls, and endless online chats –

Plus news updates and stock reports (and videos of cats).

So (if you can) do step away and make some time to brood

For finding inspiration needs real solitude

Mara Dettmann, editor, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London 


When sat at home on my own

Feeling ever more slightly alone

Trying to ignore constant pings from my phone

I loosen up and let me head roam

I look for adventure in the mundane

Till the bathroom tap drip becomes rain

On the leaves of my little pot plant

Grown into a forest of enchant

With branches reaching up to my light

Which transforms into sunshine so bright

And despite the cold March sleet

I feel warmth in this tropical heat

My eyes turn to the curve of my dull wood floor

Which glitters like a far-away golden sea shore

The grey London pigeons on my grey garden wall

Now make a sound like a seagull’s call

Whilst the coming and going of cars

Is nothing but the foam of waves as they pass

I scrunch up my eyes just to take it all in

As the mixture of sounds in my head start to ring

The walls of this paradise take over my body

As I realise I might have overdone it on the coffee

Olivia Furniss-Roe, media planner and buyer, Mediahub


Go with your gut, what do you think? 

Working as one, you’re always in sync.

Trust in yourself, make your own calls,

Stick what you want on any old walls.

There’s plenty of space for your mind to unwind, 

This is your break from the dirty daily grind.

No one can say no, nay one can naysay,

See what you create, let your imagination run away.

WFH, no face to be seen.

There’s no "I" in team,

But there is in quarantine.

Sarah Varda, creative, Ogilvy


Hey, hey any ideas?

I’ll send you a Whatsapp, I’m sitting over here.

Hey, hey, the client wants more.

Slide me the brief under my door.

Hey, hey, what about this?

This is amazing I’ll forward to Chris.

Hey, hey, this could be big.

I got your Google doc and had a rejig.

Hey, hey, FaceTime powwow?

FYI – I dress from the waist up now.

Hey, hey, I’ve written that script…

Lucky I installed Wi-Fi in my underground crypt.

Sarah Varda, creative, Ogilvy


Creativity thrives when we move around, 

You can pace and meander on any old ground.

Creativity thrives with divergent thinking, 

Different approaches stop big ideas shrinking. 

Creativity thrives in different ways for some, 

Some look at pictures, some loudly hum. 

Creativity thrives when we change up the rules, 

You can do that at home, you just need the right tools. 

There’s lots we can do to keep juices flowing,

But this final tip is really worth knowing. 

Creativity thrives, creativity thrives,

Creative thrives when we still have our lives.

Sarah Varda, creative, Ogilvy


Sitting amongst stockpiled toilet paper,

Baked beans for lunch, and more for later.

No more pub lunches, pitch-win high fives,

Now corona’s changing all of our lives.

News alerts a plenty, everything distracts

Netflix! The washing! Internet cats!

Reality sets in, WFH isn’t the dream.

It’s all kinda lonely, sat here without your team.

But inspiration lies in the memes, the bantz

And the thrill of Skype meetings in your pants.

Dip Mistry, associate creative director, Brave; Heather Keywood-Mistry, senior copywriter, M&C Saatchi


Five days at home, who knows how many more

Virtual meetings taking over the world; I wore

PJs for the first one, not realising the fucking video was on

Now it's normal. The settling in bit is gone

and there's something productive about the silence

Something motivational in London's defiance

I almost want to hear voices, laughter – just not a cough

Ironic that I usually want everyone to fuck off

Fran Griffin, senior strategist, MullenLowe Open


Take up arms and a weapon of choice

Your mind starts searching for its newfound voice

Time is rarely the enemy of the self-doubting soul’s greatness

Grasp it. Build our world something new; something courageous

Devour encyclopaedias of the digital spheres

Immerse yourself in what you know already calms mankind’s fears

Join up the dots between the pages of time and space

Link it all together to capture answers we have always chased

The time is now: find yourself and your humanitarian call

Alone we are together, and together overcomes it all.

Charlotte Robins, creative, MullenLowe Open


Looking at freedom, hidden behind glass

Striving for reason, time passing fast

A call from a friend, some lines from a book

A meal with your partner, that's all that it took

We walk towards the future, hand 'twined in hand

Ahead there is brightness, no matter the end

Kevin Jacob, senior marketing science analyst, Analytic Partners


The country’s on lockdown and I’m stuck at home,

Working my butt off, But I’m not here alone.

Toddler is crying, teenager is too

Distractions galore how will I get through?

We’re closed off to the world in total isolation,

Trying to juggle the day job with perfect inspiration.

Home-schooling, no loo roll, who would have believed

This bonkers scenario would make us relieved

To spend time with our loved ones and take time for reflection,

On the importance of championing a human connection.

Tamara Littleton, chief executive, The Social Element


If hell is other people as Sartre once said,

All the more reason to leap out of bed.

With no more commute, your mic set to mute,

It’s time to find solace, whilst learning the flute.

Working from home is nothing to fear,

When Shakespeare got stuck, he banged out King Lear.

Whilst that was the plague and the storyline’s shitty,

With Covid-19 thank God for Chris Whitty.

Chris Pearce, chief executive, MRM McCann


Calling in for hours on Teams

I’ve seen my colleague’s décor themes

All those different shades of grey

Are the back-drop for my day

Group chats and screens are being shared

Whilst this virus has us running scared

Matt Conner, managing director, MRM McCann


Miley Cyrus

Rhymes with virus.

And this wrecking ball

Has hit us all

Home alone

With a mobile phone

Working remote

With an itchy throat

Is this a fever?

Is it corona?

Is this now my life?

A marketing loner?

Nicky Bullard, chairwoman and chief creative officer, MRM McCann


Knuckles have begun to crack under the strain of hand sanitiser.

"That’s how the light gets in," said the great wordsmith improviser.

The Cohen in me is trying to find the silver lining here.

Any day now, the new normal will appear.

I hear the swans have returned to the Venice canals.

While Romans send songs through windows to keep up morale.

Exceptional times are a great excuse to be exceptionally kind.

I’ve seen things lately that restore my faith in humankind.

Yes, I just rhymed kind with kind. How clever can I be

When it’s 10am and I’m already on my sixteenth cup of tea.

But I don’t need human touch to feel human. In fact,

I feel closer to you all now than I did three weeks back.

Love in the time of Covid-19;

won’t be quarantined.

Tess Lowery, content manager, Bartle Bogle Hegarty


I’ve closed the door, cut off the 'phone,

Told the neighbours to stop mowing their evergreen lawn,

Asked the babysitter to come pick-up the gnome

Today, I need silence: I am working from home.

I am so concentrated, what could go wrong?

I even deleted my fave game of Mahjong

But then suddenly, an enticing advert pops-up:

"Have you seen this clip of a giraffe and a pup?"

I’ve wormholed on YouTube for six hours now,

Really wanted to work, but I just don’t know how

I clearly need structure, this is not for me

Working from home is hard when you have ADHD.

Manon Durin, senior account executive, Pumpkin


I wandered only in the Cloud,

Good grief this tech does make me proud.

But if it ever disconnects,

Fuck. I can’t finish my projects.

My Word! My Excel spreadsheet too!

My Deck! My SOW!

I guess I’ll have to make some lunch,

Baptize myself with just fruit punch.

Or watch The Office on Netflix,

Take some ugly front-facing pics.

You know what? I’ve no reason to be mad,

Because this work from home thing ain’t so bad.?

Amadeus Redha, global marketing manager, Interbrand


A new day, in the same old place,

I struggle to get into a good headspace.

I long to ideate face-to-face,

But I’m stuck here alone and must keep up the pace.

My memories, objects and possessions are scattered,

They pull me back to the real world, the office bubble shattered.

So I sort out a "desk", the dining table will do,

And I make sure to change out of my PJs too.

It’s just me and my laptop against the world,

Isolation’s a challenge, my routine’s been unfurled.

Thank goodness for Wi-Fi, I think to myself.

It keeps us connected, despite our poor health.

And suddenly I realise, I’m not trapped today,

As my team are in reach, just a "hangout" away.

Ellie Coulter, media planner buyer, Yonder Media


The street offers a solitary delivery van

And lunch just stockpiled beans in a can

The lamp is all angled but no poise

The radio merely background noise

We ponder how to find new thinking

Beyond "When’s it OK to start drinking?"

Could there be a chore that might

Give some sort of divine insight?

Perhaps clearing the cat litter tray

Will unlock a brilliant strategy midway?

Is hoovering the hallway before dinner

The way to crack that next award-winner?

Inspiration isn’t something you can dictate  

So why not get sh*t done while you wait?

Tristan Cavanagh, creative director, 23red


WFH is where it’s at.

Cracking out campaigns in your house or flat.

Getting up early to research your brief.

Not having to commute is such a relief.

Coronavirus is just the cure.

For doing ideas and keeping them pure.

Staying at home gives you time to find inspiration.

While doing your bit to save the nation.

Sid Gordon, creative director, Rapp UK


Sometimes I think I need a bit of peace

If I could be alone the work would cease

I’d stop, I’d think, I’d innovate and rest

But effin’ conference calls – they’re sent to test

Screen share unmute oh crap my camera’s on

Hold on – this isolation thing’s a con

Kevin Joyner, director of planning and insight, Croud


People-watch throughout the day

Observe postmen deliver, then run away

Work in pyjamas

Speculate government health figures

Stare out the window wondering

Is it the end of something?

Decide it’s not

And open your laptop.

Daisy Atkinson, content strategist, Croud


The dripping metronome sets the tone

For hours whiled away inside my home,

I watch the light come in, then go.

Fast-paced days, stopped. Slow.

I tour au fllâneur a route inside my head,

To take me miles from my desk-bed.

I wear odd shoes, sit upside down

To feel the rush relax my frown.

No chit-chat,

No eye-contact,

Not packed in like a sardine,

My desk replaced with infinite space, and daydream.

Alice Roughton, strategy director, Starcom


While working at home sheltered from corona

I sing out of tune to 70s hit My Sharona

I start to worry if I have enough toilet roll

As social isolation begins to take its toll

I wonder when I’ll next go on holiday

Dreading that my leave will end up being a home stay

As I sit there taking all the internet bandwidth

I try to work normally and do a media admin blitz

I realise working from home is OK with one caveat

The banter’s just not as good from Shadow the cat

But on the buzz of a whole company call

My jokes still get to be heard by them all

During a time when everything feels so serious

Try and remember to be hilarious.

James Russell-Rands, client director, The Specialist Works


For inspiration when home alone

Look no further than your phone

With Instagram, Pinterest, Behance

You'll only need to take a glance

A Google search could show you all

And if still stuck, then try Zoom call

The internet keeps us connected

So stay at home if you're infected

Thomas Vipond, media manager, VaynerMedia London


In this world of no mask-to-face,

Where we need to give each other some social space.

I bequeath you some iso-ticks,

But tbh most would just be Netflix.

Firstly, set up that home office and keep it clean,

As we want to keep that bank balance in the green.

Next, we will need some exercise,

I suggest 1… 2… no 3 pies.

Finally, we need the essentials for that word that rhymes with LOO,

Get those tea bags! And put on a brew!

Gavin Callaghan, senior marketing science analyst, Analytic Partners


Yesterday I started, mind-racing, pacing the paving.

Noticing the cracks, I take baby steps and head inside,

My little London flat seems even smaller than before; the space capped.

But I’m not trapped, it’s not war

It’s just a fear that we’ve not felt before.

At least we have each other.

Team spirit’s stirring, the cogs whirring, as we all pace the paving between our four walls.

Jessica Lever, head of creative, The Specialist Works


Every morning wake at home

Work from home, feel so alone

Morning coffees just for one

Mid-morning chats, far less fun

It isn’t smallpox, it isn’t the plague

Thankful we don’t live back in those days

Hangouts, texts, FaceTime, email,

Sure we’re on lockdown, but there's ecomm retail

Think of how much worse it just might've been:

Self-isolation, but without a screen

Aengus Boyle, associate director, media, VaynerMedia


Tapping at my keyboard,

The beating heart of my self-isolation ward.

Staring blankly at my cursor blinking,

Oh crap, thoughts interrupted by Slack shrieking.

I’m struggling to think,

Ah yes, maybe if I write by hand... Yeah, I need ink.

Daily Hangouts and deadlines looming,

Thank you Spotify for keeping Britney booming.

Take headspace, stretch it out and drink lots of water,

Bloody hell, only now I’ve realised I’m quite the hoarder.

Did that work?

I’m driving myself berserk.

I need to come up with something good,

Until then I guess there’s this poem, but now it’s time for food.

Esin Huseyin, copywriter, VaynerMedia

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