Empathy Day 2021: What Love Is

Empathy Day 2021: What Love Is

Empathy Day 2021 aims to spark a new national conversation about building a more empathetic society, and help young people learn more about empathy and put it into practice.

The pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement have shown how important it is that we understand what other people are going through, and how powerful it is when we look out for each other. So Empathy Day 2021 is calling for everyone to focus on other people’s feelings and perspectives, and put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

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With that in mind, I have written a poem inspired by our book Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, which is illustrated by James Mayhew. It’s a poem which imagines and explores how Pelagios, Nen’s father, might be feeling after causing a terrible sea-storm. His frustration and rage at how the humans are treating the oceans overflows one night and a terrible storm begins, which throws Ernest, a lonely fisherman, into the sea.

I think when I was writing this I had a few things in mind. Did Pelagios mean to start the storm? How does Pelagios feel about his son, Nen, and his relationship with Ernest? My husband and I are going through the process of adopting at the moment, so the relationship between a father and their child was forefront in my mind. I imagined what Pelagios might want to say to Nen and what I might one day say to my child. At the end of the story, Pelagios has gone through a powerful journey and realises that, perhaps, just maybe, things can be different.

The poem was inspired by one of James Carter’s poems, and he kindly let me use a similar structure to write my own!

I’ve also included some early sketches of Pelagios by James Mayhew – it’s thrilling to see a character develop and to get a glimpse into James’s process. You can pre-order James’s next book, Once Upon a Tune, here!


To My Son

My love for you

is not

a raging thunderstorm –

skies weeping, torn apart.

Nor is it


at who you love or who you are.


My love for you

is a quiet, hazy morning,

sunshine smiling

on a new day:




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