(April 28th 2022) Hundreds of copies of a special anthology called Menu of Poems was distributed to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH). The publication was given to patients to enjoy, with their breakfast meal tray on our national day to honour poets and their writing.
TUH Arts Officer Alison Baker Kerrigan says “Since its conception in 2008, Menu of Poems has been a positive development in the lives of both patients and those who work in Tallaght University Hospital. It’s great to see it returning after the break caused by COVID. Poetry can be a great help and solace for anyone going through difficult times.”
The final selection includes poems by Catherine Ann Cullen (children’s poem ‘Eliza Analyser’), Martina Evans’ poem ‘Gazebo’, Imelda May’s poem ‘Stargazer’, and Rita Ann Higgins’ poem ‘Lucky Mrs Higgins’. The poets involved have also kindly recorded the poetry and is available at https://saoltaarts.com/stories/menu-of-poems/
Rita Ann Higgins, Poet and Editor of the 2022 Menu of Poems said, "It's not unusual to reach for poems at a time of crises or distress, sometimes poems are all we have to get us over the tough times. Selecting poems for this project was a great pleasure. It made me take down the books I had not read for a while. It was like meeting old friends. In the end the selection made me feel warm and grateful for the powerful voices of Cullen, Evans and May, may the creative force stay with them."
Imelda May, Musical Artist and Poet said, “I am delighted that one of my poems “Stargazer” is selected for Menu of Poems to be in hospitals on Poetry Day. What a beautiful thing to do. It’s such a lovely thought and I am very honoured that my poem was picked by Rita Ann Higgins who is a lovely friend of mine. I am a fan of hers and inspired by her greatly. I hope people get something beautiful from reading poetry from their hospital beds, that it gives them nourishment, joy and healing. Hopefully the words will stay with them way beyond their hospital stay.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
Rita Ann Higgins was born and lives in Galway. Pathogens Love a Patsy (Pandemic and other Poems) is her 11th book of poetry. Our Killer City, Essays and Poems (2019) and A Memoir Hurting God (2010) are from Salmon Poetry. In 2020 Rita Ann became the People’s Pandemic Poet for The Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ Radio 1. Bloodaxe Books published several of her collections including; Throw in the Vowels, New and Selected Poems (2005), Ireland is Changing Mother (2011) and Tongulish (2016). She has written several plays. In 2021 she received the Living Poets Society Award. She is a member of Aosdana.
Arts & Health Co-ordinators Ireland (AHCI) is an all-Ireland support network of professionals who are responsible for managing arts and health initiatives. Formed in 2003, AHCI aims to build capacity and maximise resources for its membership, who work in the Arts and Health Sector throughout Ireland, North and South. The network members co-ordinate a range of arts and health activities, including environmental enhancement, visual art, sculpture, performance, participatory and collaborative arts practice, professional development for artists and staff, artist residencies, health promotion and arts and health research. Menu of Poems is a wonderful example of an arts and health project designed by AHCI, disseminated by multiple organisations throughout Ireland, and connecting patients through a shared experience in celebration of Poetry Day Ireland.
Downloadable version and recordings are available at: https://saoltaarts.com/stories/menu-of-poems/
For information on Poetry Day Ireland visit http://www.poetryday.ie/