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Compassionate Culture Network

As we close our first chapter with Compassionate Culture Network we share with you a podcast from Gavin Buckley at Uillinn that shares the experiences of the participants and artists at the early stages of the project, interspersed with Hiaku’s created through the project.


We want to extend our gratitude to our Network partners in Kildare (Embrace Music), Wicklow (Adrea Scott), Galway (Johanne Webb), Donegal (Artlink), Tallaght (Jenny MacDonald and Jennifer Webster) and Leitrim (Johnny Gogan) for sharing their progress and learning with us along the way.

We thank Dominic Campbell and the team at Irish Hospice for inviting us to take part in this project and Teresa O’Sullivan and the team at Cork ETB who helped us realise.

And all the participants who bravely stepped forward to take part in this new programme.

A note from Arts for Health artist, Tess Leak who delivered the project:

We created haiku poems (so many poems!)  About listening with our eyes closed, about the hands of a loved one, about the longest night of the year. We created haiku in our heads during solitary walks: along the shoreline collecting sea-glass, stones and driftwood and through the woods, listening again.

Sometimes our haiku were about goodbyes…The goodbyes that couldn’t happen and the goodbyes that were long and happened slowly.

We created haiku in dedication to loved ones we have lost and haiku about where we still see them: in the clouds, sun, moon, stars, in the ebb and flow of the tide, in the eyes of a stranger, in our children now carrying the flag.

And in developing this practice of writing haiku each week, we began to understand what poet and peace-builder J.P Lederach meant when he said that ‘haiku are all around us.

So together we did it, we began to create a kind of network of care, a web of support. Of listening to each other’s losses, making friends and comrades. One of our participants put it so well when she said: “Normally with grief we have to hold it in. But here we can put it into whatever we are making, we don’t have to hold it in.” And we can share it, if we want to.

Here below are some of the many wise and beautiful 5 syllable lines taken from the haiku poems created during the project:

Stories need telling
Close your eyes, be still
Flowers bloom from ditches
No one’s really gone
Ripples in the pond
Space to breathe and be
Fill your lungs with air
We are not alone

To find our more go to Arts & Creative Engagement Programme with Irish Hospice Foundation

IHF Arts and Creative Engagement programme is supported by The Creative Ireland programme.