This Melbourne squash champ has something to share

By Our Reporter
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Looks like the lockdown is bringing out the creative sides in school children. This time Joanne Joseph, a Grade 7 student of Bacchus Marsh Grammar, has penned a long poem based on COVID-19.

There is, of course, more to Joanne than meets the eye. Apart from a poetic inclination, she is also a squash player with many titles to her credit.

This year she got selected for the Australian National Team and was supposed to play New Zealand in April. But the tournament has got postponed to December and Joanne is still not sure if it will happen.

“It would be really heart breaking for me if it does not go ahead as I had put in lot in effort in the last four years to be selected in the National Team,” says Joanne. “Also, I never had such a long break from squash. All other kids of my age group are practicing all over Australia but in Victoria we have not been able to get on the court since June. This lack of practice is going to affect our ability to compete at an international level. Unfortunately, this is the case with all sports in Victoria.”

So with squash remaining out of bounds due to Covid, Joanne has used her time to pursue creative writing. Sharing her poem penned during the lockdown:

Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye

Days now are on repeat.
A never-ending cycle that can drive a person mad.
Will we ever get our life back on beat?
Never experienced a period of time this bad.
Everyday it’s harder to get up, trying to remain disciplined.
News reports and articles broadcast despair, that our loved ones listen.

Little pleasures like sitting next to a friend in class or playing on the oval is lost.
It’s all zoom and breakout rooms now, which are free of cost.
Cameras and mics start to turn off and our world’s can be blacked out by a single touch.
This is what our world has gotten to, but hope is still in our clutch.
Video calls and messages have become the norm and everything is online.
Friendships are tested and we never understood how special our life was offline.
Laughter is muffled, friendly banter is missing. Smiles get lost behind the mask.  
Canteens are closed, playgrounds are empty. New ideas are born but never put to task.

So Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye, you may seem to win this battle,
But a nation like Australia will always take the title.

Irritable behaviour and angst towards others,
Rebellions striking and people under covers.
Enthusiasm and initiative slowly fades away.
Just as this year is bringing us to dismay.
If we don’t keep order and discipline longer,
COVID-19 will slowly conquer.

Boredom creeps in like a plague, Life is a slumber,
But we remind ourselves, that we just need to hold on a bit longer.

Be strong now because things will get better.
It may be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.
There is light at the end of the tunnel,
As we start to curve the infections funnel.

So Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye, you may seem to win this battle,
But a nation like Australia will always take the title.

Money is scarce and jobs are rare
Leaving so many households in utter despair
We mourn for our dead, We care for our sick
We are all fighting together, the liberals, the labors, the believers and the sceptics

AFL is alone, NRL is lonely, the Cricket stands are empty
Now our favourite score is the countdown of infections from 800 to twenty
The snow beckons, the penguins waiting, sunlit beaches are bare
Life is full of care with lots of time but no loved ones to mingle with and share

Parks are vacant, silent are the clubs,
Roads are for exercise and walking with families and their pups
Lockdowns and fines are the new norm
Curfew showed us to continue the fight being at home from dusk to dawn

So Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye , you may seem to win this battle,
But a nation like Australia will always take the title.

People are anxious and await a miracle
We disobey the officials on matters that are impermissible
We all share one goal, for Mr COVID to finally stall,
Soon this virus will fall, our heroes will surely save us all.

This year showed us who the true superheroes really are
Our leaders, police, doctors, nurses, carers and teachers who fight for us from near and far
Showing us the path through selfless care and unwavering determination
the values of Family, Love, Faith and Trust in every home of our great nation

As a country we stand united in this fight
Our COVID Warriors will lead us to that light
Regardless of our race, religion, creed or gender
Together Mr COVID we will eradicate you from Down Under

Courage, resilience , endurance and mateship form our backbone
No wonder the kangaroos and the emus with no backward step call Australia their only home
Nowhere in the world will you come across an adversary with such indomitable grit
Try as you might you will never break the Australian spirit

So Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye,
You have been a pest in 2020 and that is not a lie.
You are an unwelcome guest and exterminating you is our only target.
For this is a passage of time in our history that we will never forget.

So Bye Bye Mr COVID-19 Bye, you may seem to win this battle,
But a nation like Australia will always take the title.

IN CONVERSATION WITH JOANNA

★ What inspired you write the poem?

This poem was written as part of a creative writing assignment. I chose to write about Covid as it was the most relevant subject of this year and wanted to write about something that has affected me personally too.

Have you shared it with your teachers or anyone else?

Yes. I have submitted this poem to the school as part of the assignment. My dad also shared it among his friends. They all liked it very much. One of my dad’s friends shared it with Star weekly and they confirmed that they would publish the poem in the local newspaper in one of the coming editions.

What does the pandemic mean to you?

I have never experienced anything like this before. It was always fun to go to school and take part in all activities. Remote learning was a new concept and something I enjoyed initially in the first stage. But the third term was difficult especially due to the lack of contact and the repetitiveness of routine. It was hard to stay motivated and I am extremely thankful to my wonderful teachers for guiding us through this difficult period. I am really looking forward to going back to school in Term 4.

Do you think poetry is an important mode of expression for young people?

In my opinion poetry is more fun that writing short stories, comprehensive essays etc.. But it also varies from person to person and what their strengths and likings are. I like poetry because I find it easy to rhyme words and also because it is lyrical and has a good musical tone to it

Is this the first time you have penned a poetry?

I have written short stories and smaller poems as part of school assignments and extracurricular activities. This is the first time I attempted to write about a serious subject and have spent the most time in its creation.

I was the Literacy captain at school in Year 6 and had access to all kind of reading material. Reading is a hobby of mine and I was always attracted to good, smart and concise writing. I was also part of the school drama in both Year 5 and Year 6 which helped in the thought process.


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