In May 2020, we commissioned ten poets and visual artists to make work stemming from the theme of small pleasures during lockdown. We’re blown away by these commissioned works; they’re exciting and diverse. Some are moving, some are funny, all give an insight into our artists’ and writers’ minds. It’s been a pleasure to curate this anthology, we hope you enjoy it too.

Curated by Jemima Foxtrot and Evelyn Albrow for DINA. If reading the poetry on a phone please turn it on its side.

John Molesworth

A joyful moment from the outdoors to the indoors

Fabric / collage / digital

10.93cm x 15 cm

Vicky Morris

Inventory of Small Pleasures

Lapsang souchong with oat milk. A knife’s clean cut

through the soft pouch of a poached egg. The slap

of heavy post dropping into the living room,

finding a handwritten address. The patterns on freshly

vacuumed carpet. The satisfaction of leaving orchid roots to soak

until they go from silvery straws to sap green worms.

Organising drawers into compartments with the moreish tang

of clotted-cream jasmine seeping through my office window.

The way Kasandra on YouTube says swan pose, chaturanga, namaste.

In the garden, every minute germination, discovering a new bud,

the micro-beauty of a husked seed pod, the sudden splash

of red from the first sweet peas. The wind carrying

the long church-bell notes of piano practice from the street below.

The visiting cat whose rough tongue lick could be a kiss.

And the digging, and digging, the weight of my body pressed

to the spade, that sweet give in a chunk of earth. Then slumped

in my deckchair smelling the colour of roses after rain,

wishing I could move and pulse my body like this caterpillar.

And, on the other side of the wall, three gardens away: Hannah

cutting her husband’s hair. And all I can see behind a square

of washing is a pigeon sat cocky on the birdfeeder, watching,

and a chair with a flash of naked torso, and Hannah’s legs

and apron like a snapshot of the 1950s.

And all the walks, each a lap of gratitude. The one with Lu

and the low flying electric blue damselflies, the prize of finding

the lilac wand of a common spotted orchid near the path

in Falconer woods. And the hidden lake we stood in when the air

was drunk with humid heat and the water eeled like icy ribbons

against our feet and calves. The ancient sycamore on the hill

at Graves park where the guy practices trumpet, his silhouette

knocking back the copper sky. Stretching hamstrings

on that small strip of AstroTurf they use for cricket. So many

sunset runs around its fields, its dark, damp woodlands,

skirting the ponds where the rats run alongside in the undergrowth

spurring me on. And the rabbit, Hazel, who waits for me

by the bench after evening silflay. Everything dazzling

and bright green, growing and climbing

against the ebb and flow of these sealed-in days.

And the meals that came together, all colour and intuition,

like a painting I could never recreate. The perfect ratio

of water to rice. The hiss and froth of a little green bottle of beer,

shimmying up the kitchen with a wok full of okra.

The choreography of knitting, the final looping and scooping off

of yarn to start again and start again. The flow state

of monotropic nonexistence, where there’s no time, no place,

no self, only the task, becoming the thing you are doing,

no moth-headed flitting, no forty tabs open, when your senses

are giving, willing, unable to change direction.

Just that, just the joy of it.

Tomekah George


Digital and handmade collage

29.7cm x 42 cm

Sez Thomasin


Jessica Jane Charleston

Bath time

watercolour on paper

13.5cm x 17.5cm

Joey Connolly

The Tiny Jack Russell That Goes Past My Window Every Day Around 2.45 with a New Enormous Stick (What, Is He Building a Dam?)

A big pleasure is only its bigness, yak-stubborn

and full of itself, so packed with the butter of its own

cream there’s no room for the cables, the modem, that little

letter-writing table to keep you in touch with the

sadness next door, the shame you were at school with,

the hope that moved to Melbourne in ‘04.

A jigsaw piece bigger than the jigsaw, unseeoutable from,

ungraspably slippery with the juices of its own excitement.

A small pleasure is a grass seed in a handful of grass seeds

flung amongst the rubble and rusted machinery

of your stalled and fucky life, and finding the dark spaces,

the beads of lawless thought, to hoist their tiny flags

of anonymous moss green, content to be lost in the mass,

a hammock of vanishing contentments, the lawn of an okay life.

Aliyah Hussain

Care / Connect / Support

pencil, gouache paint, collage

29.7cm x 21cm

Tashinga Matewe

The Right Type of Love

Simon Green

God Bless The Great Indoors

Pencil and watercolour

70cm x 99cm

Otis Mensah

A Little Like This

Alex Sickling

Close up hug

ceramic white earthenware

10cm x 7cm

Sitting with Olive

ceramic white earthenware

13cm x 9cm

Holding Olive standing

ceramic white earthenware

14cm x 5cm

Ben Wilkinson

Two Foxes

It happens when you drink too much in the park

on an afternoon with the girl you just met,

the weather stuck between sunshine and squall.

And no, I don’t mean that. Not yet.

More the way our lives have hidden for months

on hold but now, here, you’re noticing

yourself, remembering those two foxes

on a midnight run at the dawn of lockdown,

tentatively sussing the streets, the silence,

each other. You chat around the usual stuff

but then it comes: your eyes lock, and this

could be the start of a story without pandemic:

the precise moment you both recognise it,

fox and vixen, mirroring each other’s movements.

Kirsteen Hardie

No to Racism, Sexism, Transphobia & Homophobia

Mixed media

100cm x 50cm

Nadia Emam


Will Kendrick

Comfort of a Lonely World

Suzannah Evans

In the Capsule with Bob and Doug

Bob and Doug are leaving the Earth’s atmosphere

as fast as human invention can take them

in a seated position that they have to remain in

for nineteen hours. I wonder how much

they like each other. Is it a lot or are they

already getting sick of one another? Does Bob

like Doug more than Doug likes Bob or is it

the other way around? Does Bob find Doug’s behaviour

unnecessarily risky? Do they wish they were

different people sometimes? Nineteen hours

is a long time to sit in a blue-lit

hospital-white cockpit, time enough to really

get into all the issues, have the conversations

life has made them too busy for, until now

in their rubber boots and gloves,

knees bent at ninety degrees

the whole world watching the reflective bubbles

behind which their faces exist. They don’t seem

to be saying much but when they reach Zero G

Bob (or Doug) releases a toy dinosaur

that floats gleefully towards the camera

then cavorts around the spacecraft.

Bob and Doug are out of here!

on Earth we relax on sofas, bodies

incubating their germs and beliefs. At twilight

we might catch Bob and Doug on the horizon

a free spark zipping through the night.

Becca Brown

The Gardener (She grew juicy red flowers and then hacked the plant to pieces & ate it)

Porcelain with underglazes and cobalt and nickel inks

8cm x 9cm

Genevieve Carver

This is not a Poem about Baking

or birdsong

or double-yolkers gleaming like newly discovered planets

in the spitting oil of space.

This is not a poem in which a chink of light breaks through

to the infinite void in our souls

just because we’ve grown vegetables together.

So what if I’ve soil under my finger nails?

The infinite void in my soul doesn't care

if I planted wishes in paper pots

felt them burgeon in my heart like algal blooms

until my blood ran shamrock-green.

This is not a poem that stops to smell

the roses. Take a look outside, the thorns

have snaked up the walls of your house

and pierced the clouds, and now it’s raining

news again. My head’s in a vice facing upwards,

my eyelids propped open with matchsticks

and the acid is pouring in. There are rose petals

between my toes but all I can smell is feet.

This is not a poem about dancing

because dancing is far too shackled by gendered

societal expectations to do with leading and following

for any woke person in their right mind to enjoy

being whirled around like a sycamore key in the wind

and anyway, I could be doing something useful.

This is not a love poem

because I would never tell anybody how much I love you

and especially not in a poem

when everyone knows poems are chock-full of lies

like ‘this is not a poem about baking’, I mean

who am I even kidding? I watched the mixture rise

through the greased-up glass of the oven door

like a waif in a Charles Dickens novel peering in

through a steamy window on a family at Christmas-time.

I licked the spoon and now I’ve sticky globules of truth

smeared all around my mouth

and everyone can see how much I

Warda Yassin

Cavendish Court

She keeps inviting me in. Won’t understand why

I can’t walk through the door with a blue bag

filled with henna (it has to be the dry, green henna)

and a fresh cotton dress. Won’t understand why

I can’t massage her knees anymore with blackseed oil,

that I’m dangerous now. I stand by the front window,

laugh at her laugh through this prism of love. I ask her

of her day and she recounts routine, and phone calls

home, the floods in Burcao, how the city flows

backwards into the villages, and when she talks of her

daughter, chides her grandsons, I hear in her voice

she is chief of her household again, Hurricane Aisha.

Drinking too much tea, cardamom, ginger,

too much sugar. Sundus’ chuckle steams the pane

and my eyes are glassy portholes. I know she forgets things

but never her salah, wudu in the kitchen sink.

I know she sleeps less so the nights are longer.

Inside, I catch my father slouched over

the coffee table, handpicking the bone of dates.

Her arms are soft olive branches and I distract her

when she reaches out. Something in me

comes undone. I think of how love can take

form in a face. How it stands there on the other side

of glass. Here, we are small mirrors, of each other.

Sundus and I, in a fishbowl of youth and before we go,

the same advice – be wary of boys who don’t walk

through the front gate, remember, you have a good mother,

good father, don’t be seen in bad places and find Allah

everywhere. I leave carrying an empty Sainsbury bag,

her duas filtering the street, guiding me home.

Chris Alton & Emily Simpson

Perhaps the Highest Service is to Feed the Plants