Lockdown Brain—poems penned and visualised during the lockdown

Words by poet-designer, Ananya Khaitan, founder of Novel, a visual design studio — When the pandemic hit India and we went into lockdown, I was stuck in my tiny apartment, alone and bouncing off the walls. These set of poems called, ‘Lockdown Brain’ as a particular kind of cabin fever that plagues those with the creative affliction. It is this stir-crazy state that saw me combine my twin passions—poetry and design—into a series of ‘visual poems’. Weight-gain, ‘the new normal’ work emails, corporate bailouts … I channelled every woe and concern plaguing me into this project. Each visual poem came with its own constraints. Apart from the constraints of metrical rhyme itself, the choice of visual imposed certain restrictions on language, word count, etc. Indeed, some came with technological constraints as well. (More below.)

As the lack of exercise and stress-eating of the early stages of the pandemic led to weight gain, I mulled over how a more useful unit of currency might’ve killed two birds with one stone.
Composited on a t-shirt label, this poem remarks upon the scary state of the world.
Written in the manner of the stock market’s ticker, this poem is a commentary on the corporate corruption of the government.
All days of the month in the early stages of the pandemic
(this was written in April 2020) felt like they were all merging into each other.
This poem had to be written such that the character count fit within the 7×6 grid of a calendar.
The social-distancing paranoia gripped quite a few of us at the early stages of the pandemic. This ‘Welcome’ mat wards off all visitors ( and mentions strictly non-contact threats!)
Written entirely using Google’s Autocomplete suggestions, this poem served as a snapshot for a global state of confusion, paranoia (with some humour thrown in).
It’s only when one goes to the workplace all week does one relish the weekend. Being stuck at home constantly creates a limbo state, somwhere between weekday and weekend.
Written using the iOS Calendar tool, this poem describes the near-constant state of procrastination that set in, in the early stages of the pandemic.
Composited on the back of a lotion tube, this poem lists the ingredients of a
‘Quarantine Balm’.


This work won a Blue Elephant at the Kyoorius Design Awards 2021 under Writing for Design category. 

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