Hi – my name’s Char March and I was Writer-in-Residence in Leeds Teaching hospitals in 2007/08. As one of my projects, I wanted to get quality contemporary poetry – in beautifully-designed posters – up in hospital waiting rooms throughout Leeds’ hospitals.
I only had a tiny budget, so had to ask poets to provide their poems for free, THANKYOU ALL SOOOOOO MUCH!! Even so, I only had enough dosh to have 100 posters printed. However, I was determined that the posters would not only be wonderful poetry that would engage, delight and provide food-for-thought for patients, visitors and staff, but that they would also look gorgeous – to provide some beauty in the aesthetically grim environment of hospital waiting rooms.
Jess Laljee (http://www.jesslaljee.gallereo.com/; http://jessjelly.blogspot.com/ ) and Caro Pratt (www.carolinepratt.co.uk) have done a great job in creating 100 completely individual designs. A BIG thankyou to you both – you’re real stars! Neither Jess nor Caro had ever worked with poetry before, so it’s been a steep learning curve for them – figuring out how to interpret each poem to its best effect without re-telling the poems, or misinterpreting them.
The poetry scene in Britain has never been healthier or more diverse than it is currently, so I wanted to use as many living poets as possible – to expose patients to contemporary poetry which is (supposedly) ‘difficult’ and ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘isn’t real poetry because it doesn’t rhyme’. I always try to act as an advocate for contemporary poetry, and not just to encourage people to read it more, but also to realise that us writers are not ‘a breed apart’ but that they – themselves – could also write … that their voice is valid, and important. Hence including some personal details about the poets – to show us in all our fabulous diversity … and ‘normality’!
Everyone involved with the project learnt a HUGE amount, and we were all determined to put in that extra mile to make each and every poster the best possible for each poem and each poet – so they could have maximum impact in the waiting rooms for the people that actually mattered at the end of the day … the patients, their visitors and all the hospital staff.
I’m very happy to share more detail on how the project worked, and to come and give a presentation to your health trust or writing organisation on how not only this project worked, but also all the other writing projects I did in my year as Writer-in-Residence for Leeds Teaching Hospitals.
All the very best with your writing – and thank you so much for being part of this project! I’d love to hear your comments on the project – feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Poet, playwright and short fiction writer and Writer-in-Residence for Leeds Hospitals for 2007/08)
A STRONG NOTE ON COPYRIGHT! Please please please respect the copyright of all the poems given here. The poets have all given their work free for the sole purpose of this one project. Please do not abuse their generosity by using their poems – or these designs – elsewhere. If you’d like to run your own hospital posters project, I’d be happy to help, and can put you in touch with all the writers shown here. Remember – all writers and designers earn their living from their work. If you nick their work, you are literally stealing bread off our tables!