Poems Written While by Natalia Theodoridou is a wonderful gem of a story, showing tenderness, compassion, and love amidst a dystopian world post-war. Our protagonist, Daddy, is a trans man who has formed a family with a group of orphaned kids, all of them leaning on each other to get by in this unforgiving world. There are so many layers to the story, making the group’s situation both heartwarming and harrowing. We’re made to imagine a future where children have never seen the stars, where society has collapsed and people do what they can to find a place where they belong.
The brilliance of the story lies in its ability to shine moments of beauty amidst the decay of this dark future. Poetry runs freely amidst the group and it creates this strange space where everyone feels safe, where they’re able to forget about the world around them and live in a past time where love was all a person worried about.
We also see the struggles Daddy has with his wish to find love. It’s clear he longs for the attachments found in the poetry he has memorized. The words are dolled out sparingly, requiring payment of some kind in order to be spoken. It makes the poetry important and powerful. He finds a brief moment of love with a stranger who stays for a few days and he’s almost surprised in the moment, in shock that someone is one top of him, ready to love him for him.
Overall, Poems Written While is a thing of beauty, giving us a bit of a love story within the storm. It’s reassuring to know that poetry can continue long after the world as we know it has come to an end.
POEMS WRITTEN WHILE
By Natalia Theodoridou
Published January/February 2019