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A poem penned for a Norfolk hospital

PUBLISHED: 07:12 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:10 06 July 2010

Poet Michael Laskey reads out his poem which has been placed on the wall in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's East Atrium.

Poet Michael Laskey reads out his poem which has been placed on the wall in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's East Atrium.

A poem written for a Norfolk hospital and inspired by one of its patients was unveiled yesterday as a permanent display.

Poet Michael Laskey wrote the poem, called Treatment, as part of a poetry programme at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

A poem written for a Norfolk hospital and inspired by one of its patients was unveiled yesterday as a permanent display.

Poet Michael Laskey wrote the poem, called Treatment, as part of a poetry programme at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The project is now coming to a close, but has seen poems on 160 toilet doors in the hospital, all written by living poets from all over the world.

Mr Laskey, from Leiston, has also been speaking to patients undergoing dialysis, who have to spend long periods in hospital, and reading poems to them. And he has led poetry reading and writing workshops for staff, though the writing workshops had to be cancelled due to low take-up. This meant that there was some spare funding to commission his poem, which was inspired by one of the dialysis patients he met, who told him about his younger days working on a Norfolk farm.

He said: “If you are in a hospital you can feel the world is full of ill people. This is about the life that comes into the hospital, the knowledge and experience of the people who come in.”

Ten thousand people a day visit the hospital, and the hospital has calculated that a million people have seen the poems over the course of the year.

It is the first time the Poetry Trust, a national organisation, has worked with a hospital. Hospital chief executive Anna Dugdale, Poetry Trust director Naomi Jaffa and Mr Laskey were there for the unveiling in the hospital's east atrium yesterday.

Ms Jaffa said it had helped to show people who do not normally read poems that they are not intimidating. “To work with such a big organisation is great for us. We want this to happen in more hospitals,” she said.

The project was funded by Arts Council England East, Limbourne Trust and Norfolk County Council, including £16,000 of Grants for the Arts lottery funding.

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