Poetry is on the menu for residents in community hospitals and visitors to day centres throughout West Cork on Thursday, 27 April. Menu of Poems, now in its sixth year, is served up to patients and visitors with their lunch in hospitals to simply read and enjoy. This years’ collection entitled, You. Just You. is a selection from the Poems for Patience selected by award-winning poet Yrsa Daley-Ward. It includes poems by Alice Walker, Derek Walcott and Naomi Shihab Nye.
According to Yrsa, ‘Many poems resonate so strongly in our hearts and minds because we are all connected.’ Justine Foster, Programme Manager of the Arts for Health programme in West Cork, concurs with the theme of connecting, ‘healthcare staff, patients and their families can connect in reading the collection together, giving rise to new conversations, and project ideas with artist in residence at the hospitals. It connects us on a national level too, as uniquely this project brings arts and health organisations across Ireland, to work together to deliver this shared arts engagement.’
This annual event brings poetry into a variety of healthcare settings nationally and across West Cork includes Bantry General Hospital, Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Dunmanway, Skibbereen, Schull Community Hospital, West Cork Mental Health Services . Carol McCann, Director of Nursing remarked “The residents here in Clonakilty Community Hospital are provided with healthy food for their bodies but this poetry menu feeds their hearts and souls. This project has provided the residents an opportunity to engage with the artists, staff and relatives at a deeper level. The residents and their family need this balance to see and be with their loved ones as mother, father, brother or sister. Thank you for the Artists who have a great ability to be with the residents, we are so much better at the doing.”
Maureen Kennelly, Director of Poetry Ireland, said of the project: ‘Poetry Ireland is delighted to be involved with the Menu of Poems project once again this year and to partner on an initiative that brings poetry to people’s bedside. Our mission is to connect people with poetry and make it part of their everyday life.’
Menu of Poems is a joint initiative by members of Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland. Poetry is circulated on meal trays in health settings nationally on Poetry Day. Poetry Day takes place this year on Thursday April 27. This project is kindly supported by Health Promotion and Improvement in the HSE and Poetry Ireland. Several hospitals and healthcare settings will be taking part in the initiative including the seven hospitals in Saolta University Healthcare Group. The project is co-ordinated by Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust.