Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not Just Words

“ Not Just Words” – an anthology of patient and staff writing gathered by Judi Benson, Writer in Residence at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary's Specialist Palliative Care Services ( 2004-2006) - has recently been sent us. It brings together a diverse range of individuals including consultants, nurses, phlebotomists, bacteriologists, clinical psychologists, patients, archivists, administrative and domestic staff, carers, spouses, volunteers, children and grandchildren, as well as poets in the community and further afield including the Sevice's first Writer in Residence, Diana Hendry. Here are poems of joy, sorrow, pain and levity, on a range of themes including, though not exclusive to, the hospital setting….a sharing of the human experience. The poems are interesting because most of them are written as "One Word Sonnets" - a poem of fourteen individually listed words, something akin to a Haiku.

In a covering letter, a Consultant in Special Palliative Care, Dr Lyndsay Martin, tells how valuable the anthology exercise has been in empowering people who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the necessary care lavished on them by others, on top of the many emotions that come up in people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

Ray Wills often exhorted and encouraged others to express themselves in writing, however much they might see themselves as having nothing to say, or however inarticulate their voice (as they saw it). With Ray, I am sure that regular writing is a valuable way of developing a deeper awareness of ourselves, our mental habits, assumptions, bigotries and blind-spots, as well as a way into the source of our innate wisdom.

This blog was set up for that purpose (amongst others), although it has got off to a less than auspicious start, perhaps because I don't post often enough, or because I'm not honest enough, or both. Having acknowledged that, I do feel a bit closer to doing something worthwhile about improving and invigorating it. Interestingly, I received an email recently from someone who confesses that, having stumbled across the blog when visiting the parent site, she is now an occasional 'lurker'. I'm pleased to hear it (I think!)

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