Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Not Just Words

Judi Benson's book Not Just Words arrived this morning, it is a collection of writing by patients and staff and herself from the two years she spent as writer in residence at Dumfries and Galloway NHS. I've been dipping into it and I love it already. I just wish it had been around as I went through treatment.

There's lots to savour, and the main form used is the one word on each line sonnet. Here's an example

Words (copyright by Tom Pow)

So
few
words
he
said
and
she
said

but
they
made
all
the
difference


Another one I like which I 'll just set out in normal type (copyright Hazel Adamson) says:

"A mother holds her child's hand for a while, but their heart forever more."

That is so simple and so true. My son got knock out of his golf competition, and even though he's eighteen on Saturday I still find it hard to see disappointment written on his face. (It's a big week around here as my husband was 50 yesterday.(

There are some really funny pieces in the book too. Ron McKechnie's work is worth the purchase alone, he's writing about prostate cancer, and about having to travel up to Edinburgh for MRIs and radiotherapy etc. And he does it it brilliantly and affectingly. Judi's own work is also a good read, she spent two years sitting in chemo suites, which is more than I could have done. Her Phlebotomist poem is spot on, giving test bloods prior to chemo is one of the worst aspects of it all.

I firmly believe a creative writing class at every hospital would work wonders, it wouldn't cure people, but it would allow them to record what is happening to them, and that can be a fantastic release.

As Betty Tindal says in her one word sonnet, called Courage

One
big
leap
is
sometimes
required.

Two
small
jumps
will
not
cross
a
chasm.

If you are going through a major illness, including cancer, or know someone who is, buy this book.

Not Just Words ISBN 189931638-8 Available from NHS Dumfires and Galloway, call 01387 241510 or email john,glover2at(changed for spam purposes)nhs.net Price 7.95

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jan said...

I have a book called " The Poetry Remedy" by a photographer/writer called Ann Kelley who lives in Cornwall.
I bought it in 2001 when I was down there during the St Ives September festival.
The book's full of creative writing ideas she's used with teachers, healthcare folk etc.
It shows how her ideas helped patients produce some great stuff.

12:11 pm  
Blogger jason evans said...

Those poems are very touching.

1:56 pm  
Blogger Verilion said...

These poems are great. Really moving.

2:37 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

I forgot to say previously that I think Tom Pow's sonnet is lovely.
I've thought about it a lot during today because it's so true; just a phrase sometimes puts everything into perspective, gives light when everything's shrouded.

3:27 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Jan the book you bought sounds good too.

I like the Pow sonnet too, it is such a hard time to find the right words, and when you do they are very precious indeed.

I'll see how this thread gros, and maybe pass it on to Judi.

3:47 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Warm wishes to husband and son- poor lad. After your comment I was inspired to e-mail my boys to make sure they knew how proud I was of them.

5:27 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Pi I'm sure they already knew, but hearing it again from their lovely Mum couldn't hurt.

Seeing my friends kids deal with her death recently I was struck by what does stick, and it was qwuite a revelation.

10:33 am  

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