Freedom in Constraint

Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems focusing on the themes of isolation and social distancing and the wider issues and challenges to community and family arising out of the current Covid 19 pandemic. The requirement to socially isolate is a particularly measured response to the threat of the spread of the virus taken by Government. It does not feel normal or natural for us as social beings to be removed from those we love. Writing poetry in itself could be considered to be an unnatural way of responding to the challenges of life in general. Lyric poetry in particular, in its employment of heightened language, its use of imagination, its brevity and concision, can be seen as an attempt to map the individual experience of the poet onto the general consciousness. If successful, such poetry can console, encourage, empower and provoke questions. The employment of rhyme and metre can be seen as further evidence of poetry’s artifice. But is artifice a bad thing in itself? Every art created, high and low, from opera to popular song, uses just such techniques and we have no problem accepting and enjoying them.

In this peculiar and uncertain time there has developed a paradoxical sense of community among people who at the same time are living at a distance from each other. I have attempted to create poems which are formally constrained and which reflect the current restrictions, and which, at the same time, reach out to others in order to act as a curative to those who crave structure in these problematic times. This strikes me as an appropriate artistic response in a time of crisis. I hope I have succeeded.

The first poem in the sequence is a sonnet New Day. My daughter Martha has made a short film to accompany the poem which you can view below.

I intend to upload new poems every week or so until I reach the end of the sequence. I hope you enjoy them. Stay safe!

Brian Kirk,


June 2020


Freedom in Constraint is a sequence of formal poems responding to life during the Covid 19 crisis and is made with support from the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Éalíon’s Covid 19 Response Award.

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