Salena Godden’s latest poetry collection With Love, Grief and Fury gives an ample and elemental display of her deepest passions. Filled with the vulnerability, rage and dismay that define contemporary living, it also delivers a stirring dose of inspiration, hope and empathy. Personal and political, the subjects range from civil liberties, human rights, love and peace, emancipation and justice, the climate crisis and the solidarity of protest, to childhood memories or the urgency of baking the perfect cake. ‘All You Have to Do Is Care’ is one of several poems that vibrantly depict the anxieties, emotions, resilience and joy that play a major part in the creative process – and much more besides.

All You Have to Do Is Care

about it so much you work on it every day and some days you work a little and other days you work a lot and some days it will come easy and other days it’s too much but all you have to do is care about it and care so much you want to touch it and taste it and work on it every day all day and there are times you watch the sun rise and you will wonder why you get up so early and care about it so much and there are tears and laughter and you get a bit mad in there and lonely and weeks pass months pass sometimes years pass but finally you think you have something you really care about so you somehow find some courage and show someone and you tell them you care about it and you tell them that you care about it an awful lot and you feel afraid but you ask them to look at it and if you’re lucky they care about it too and they might even tell someone else about it and soon maybe two or three different people might start caring about it and that is a great feeling isn’t it and literally a dream come true that three or maybe four people in the world like a thing you made and care about and then these people might tell other people and then maybe they’ll care about it too and some of them might write about it and say they care about it and then people will read that and hopefully begin to care about it too and that’s so generous and also so intense now because the next thing you know maybe lots of people begin to care about the thing you care about lots of people you never even met care about it people you don’t even know care about it and people might start talking about it and caring about it and that is wonderful and you feel excited and strange and vulnerable all at once as something glorious is happening and the thing you cared about and shared is making other people feel moved or happy or inspired or connected somehow and well that’s amazing and then suddenly there are people with their thoughts and feelings and opinions about the thing you made and everyone has their own perspective on the thing you care about and not everyone gets it or likes it or even cares about it and that is incredible to you and terrifying because you cannot control whether people care about what you care about and they let you know whether they care or not whilst you still remember when it was a secret and all yours and you were the only one who cared about it and you remember how you once believed you were the only one that would ever care about it and you remember it as a flickering flame of an idea that lived in your head and heart and you remember the tears and the laughs and the lonely madness it took to write it down and make it and that’s so beautiful and crazy how it feels so long ago because now it is a thing that is shared and some people let you know they care and others let you know that they do not care about the thing you care about and others are very busy caring about their own thing right now because not everyone cares about all the same things at the same time and you know not everyone cares about the things you care about and this is a gamble and a connection and a sharing of alchemy and magic and making things you care about depends on luck and fate and courage and it begins to feel like you are on a non-stop speeding train and you can see the sky above and the fall below and the destination is constantly changing and you never know who is on board or in another carriage and you don’t know who is driving this train or if it is OK to smoke so you roll the window down and stick your neck out and have a cigarette anyway and you enjoy the ride for a while and the view is a blur of urgency and you feel a mixture of hopeful and glad and grateful and anxious and you are on this great electric sky-train adventure on a thin glass track with bright flashing lights and loud fizzy talk and the thing you care about changes shapes in other people’s coffee-breathed mouths and it twists in the words like a kite and then suddenly one morning you just jump off the train and you watch it fade smaller and smaller into the distance and you let it go and you walk all the way home barefoot and humble and you quietly shut your door and you feel a jumble of tired and happy and sad for a while and you feel emptied and you may get drunk and stare up at the stars and ask the moon why you care so much and why you took it all so seriously and you know it is because you care deep down and so you laugh at yourself and you cry a little too and eventually you eat something sensible and you grumble a bit and put yourself to bed early and you dream and dream and dream and you dream about caring about things and then you wake up in the middle of the darkness and watch day break with a spectacular sunrise and you have a sensational feeling and in that moment it is all yours and in that minute you truly live as you care about some tiny detail in some colour or sound or feeling and you pick up a pen and write one word and then another word and then another and you start working in silence and solitude in that first light that is golden and warm and it is beautiful because that is the best time of all times because you care about it and it is all yours and new and shiny and all you have to do is care about it and care so much you want to touch it and taste it and work on it every day all day and some days you work a little and other days you work a lot but all you have to do is care all you have to do is care all you have to do is…

from With Love, Grief and Fury (Canongate, £16.99)

Salena Godden is an award-winning author, poet and broadcaster based in London. Inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022, her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death won the Indie Book Award for Fiction and the People’s Book Prize, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards and the Gordon Burn Prize, and screen rights have been optioned by Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures. Her work has been widely anthologised and broadcast on radio, TV and film, and her poem ‘Pessimism Is for Lightweights’ is on permanent display at the People’s History Museum, Manchester. With Love, Grief and Fury is published by Canongate in hardback, eBook and audio download, alongside a new paperback edition of her childhood memoir Springfield Road.
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Author photo by Beccy Strong