Monday, 1 December 2008

Poetry as Therapy

Here's an interesting article on Poetry as Therapy from the Huffington Post.

In an article for the Psychiatric Centers Information Network, registered poetry therapist Perie J. Longo instructs us that "the word therapy, after all, comes from the Greek word therapeia meaning to nurse or cure through dance, song, poem and drama."

Friday, 31 October 2008

Hospital Feedback

Clane Hospital reported that the leaflets were going down well and they still had some left.
Naas Hospital had the same problem with responses from the busy receptionists as in the doctors’ surgeries. She did an excellent study going round the waiting rooms herself and asking 100 people for their responses face to face. 91% said that they liked the poems. 88% would like to see poetry available in the hospital waiting areas on a permanent basis.

Some of the comments included:
• “Very refreshing in comparison to literature usually present in waiting rooms. Diversity and quality of poems are extraordinary”
• “I like the variety more humour in poems please we need cheering up”
• “Passes the time”
• “Puts one thinking”
• “At the age of 66 some meant a lot to me”
• “Learnt back in school – 80 yrs ago”
• “Different”
• “It eases the mind/relaxing”
• “Reminds me of school”
• “Waste of money”
• “They are lovely”
• “A good read”

She asked for suggestions on improving the waiting room experience.
• “Too much television – not enough magazines for men”
• “Someone to recite the poetry”
• “Drinks machines/water cooler”
• “Ask waiting patients to compose poem/essays themselves!”
• “Faster service-take patients at arranged time.”
• “More poems and short stories”
• “Books of poetry and short stories would help peoples thoughts and feelings and relax them before visiting the doctor”
• “Ask people to compose their own and send in. Also a bit of Art (painting) not all “modern impressionist but real life and landscape”
• “Play area for little children”

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Feedback from Surgeries

Feedback from the surgeries was positive in the main. Many of the waiting rooms are out of view of the reception so they couldn’t see exactly how the visitors reacted to the leaflets in the waiting rooms.
Some of the comments from surgeries:
• “Well done. I noticed people taking them away.”
• “They weren’t thrown around. People were reading them.”
• “..very positive. They are reluctant to take them home.”
• “They’ve all gone.”
• “They take them but whatever they do with them, I don’t know.”
• “Nice idea.”
• “Not gone down too well. People are writing on them.”
• “I haven’t read a poem since the leaving cert.”

Out of 22 responses, all but one were positive. One requested another batch of leaflets to replace those already taken home.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Doctors’ Waiting Rooms

There is not one source of a list of doctor’s waiting rooms in Kildare. The list was compiled from various sources including the phone book and internet resources including, and This resulted in a list that included some dentists and some doctors who were retired, as well other out of date or inaccurate information.
Each surgery was called, some more than once to catch their limited opening hours, to confirm the data and to explain the project before posting the leaflets.
Out of 48 surgeries that were contactable and still working, 44 requested a batch of leaflets. Each waiting room received 20 leaflets limited by the postal cost.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

More Blogs quote us in a positive light

Bob and Margery's blog on talks about poetry as public art.
Bob Holman is from New York and Margery Snyder is from San Francisco.

Also in the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) news

Saturday, 11 October 2008

De Papieren Man

We've been referenced in this Dutch blog. International or what!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

We are now in Clane Hospital

If you're visiting Clane Hospital in the near future, look out for one of ours leaflets.

Feedback so far is very positive from doctor's surgeries. The leaflets are being read and taken home. Poems in the Waiting Room.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Poem Suggestion

I received this email from


I picked up a leaflet in the library to day ‘Poems in the Waiting Room’ – what a great idea. Can I suggest a poem for a future leaflet? This one appeared on the recent Leaving. Cert. Higher level English paper as the unseen poem. It reminds me of my own lovely kind father.


She attached the lovely poem, 'Those Winter Sundays' by Robert Hayden.

Well, to respond to your suggestion, I know the poem well. I first came across it in the lovely poetry anthology from Bloodaxe, Staying Alive (or maybe it was Being Alive). The problem is that the poem is still in copyright, he died in 1980, so we would have to pay to include it. We try to keep paying for rights to living poets so most of the poems are out of copyright.

I won't quote it here so I don't breach copyright (but try googling it if you want to read it.)
Any more suggestions?

Sunday, 15 June 2008

More Interest in our Project

The leaflets have started being distributed.
Naas Hospital are raising awareness in their waiting rooms and the leaflets should be out next week.
The 15 Kildare libraries will receive their leaflets this week.
We are in the process of contacting Doctor's surgeries and posting out or hand delivering to everyone who expresses an interest.
We are especially keen to get feedback from the readers, the visitors and staff as well. Comments are appreciated, good or bad.

We have an article in the Liffey Champion and will be on KFM radio. also feature us here.

And we have been picked up by no less illustrious a publication than The New Yorker.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Dublin's Evening Herald

We're in Dublin's Evening Herald newspaper. A whole page (minus an advert for the Anglo Irish Bank) on page 23.

Just what the doctor ordered - waiting room reading gets a dose of culture with free poetry leaflets.

By Sarah Neville.

A great article. I hope loads of people read it and drop by the website. I hope some doctor's read it and get in touch.

Just a couple of corrections.

We have 2,000 leaflets, not 2,000 poems. We have 6 poems in this first issue. We are sponsored by Kildare County Council Arts Service.

Poems in the Waiting Room was established in the UK in 1995. And not by the National Health but by an Arts In Health Charity. And they are supplying over 1,000 waiting rooms each quarter with a total of 22,000 leaflets, a great achievement. It is no longer supported by the Arts Council but by a number of charitable trusts, including the Beatrice Trust, The Tanner Trust and The Oakdale Trust.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Iggy McGovern reads 'The King of Suburbia'

Iggy reading the Title Poem of his collection

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Iggy McGovern - The Difference

Iggy McGovern was born in Coleraine and lives in Dublin where he is Associate Professor of Physics at Trinity College. His poetry has been widely published in anthologies and journals in Ireland and abroad, as well as in the popular ‘Poetry in Motion’ series on trains in the Dublin suburban rail system (DART). Well-known for his witty, playful, but emotionally engaged poems, McGovern is the recipient of the McCrae Literary Award and the Hennessy Literary Award for poetry.

The Difference is a poem from his first collection, The King of Suburbia. It is subtitled for Eoin. This was published in November 2005 for which he received the Glen Dimplex Poetry Award.

You can download and listen to Iggy reading some of his poems on the Dedalus Press website where you can also order the book.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Ann Egan - Aspen Falls

Ann Egan was born in 1948 in Co Laois. Her collections are Landing the Sea (Cork, Bradshaw Books, 2003); and The Wren Women (Ballyclare, Co Antrim, The Black Mountain Press, 2003). She has won numerous prizes for her poetry, including several at Listowel Writers’ Week; The Athlone Poetry Prize; The Annamakerrig Prize, 75 years of RTE radio and in 2001, the Oki Prize. She lives in Co Kildare.

The poem 'Aspen Falls' in our first leaflet is taken from the collection 'Landing the Sea.' This can be ordered from Bradshaw books and all good bookshops.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Hope - Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. She was a prolific private poet, choosing to publish fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often utilize slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Her poems also tend to deal with themes of death and immortality, two subjects which infused her letters to friends.
She died on May 15, 1886.

Despite her prolific writing, fewer than a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime. After her younger sister Vinnie discovered the collection of nearly eighteen hundred poems, Dickinson's first volume was published four years after her death. Until the 1955 publication of Dickinson's Complete Poems by Thomas H. Johnson, her poetry was considerably edited and altered from their manuscript versions. Since 1890 Dickinson has remained continuously in print.

See Wikipedia for more information on her life and works.

'Hope' is the fourth part of a longer poem called 'Life.' It was written around 1861. It is an extended metaphor using a bird for Hope. Why not download the poster of the poem and frame or laminate it for your waiting room or staffroom? You order The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson published by Faber from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Here is a good analysis of the poem, Hope.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Sonnet 130 Recitation

Alan Rickman reciting this sonnet.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

William Shakespeare - Sonnet 130

William Shakespeare was baptised 26 April 1564 in Stratford upon Avon in England. He was an poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He died on 23 April 1616.

The Sonnets were published in 1609, but Scholars are not certain when each of the 154sonnets was composed; Evidence suggests that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for a private readership.

In Sonnet 130 included in our first leaflet, the poet satirises the tradition of comparing one's beloved to all things beautiful under the sun, and to things divine and immortal as well. It is often said that the praise of his mistress is so negative that the reader is left with the impression that she is almost unlovable. On the contrary, although the first part makes many negative comparisons, the second part contrives to make one believe that the sound of her voice is sweeter than any music, and that she far outdistances any goddess in her merely human beauties and her mortal approachability.

This is the sonnet as originally published:

M Y Miſtres eyes are nothing like the Sunne,
Currall is farre more red,then her lips red,
If ſnow be white,why then her breſts are dun:
If haires be wiers,black wiers grow on her head:
I haue ſeene Roſes damaskt,red and white,
But no ſuch Roſes ſee I in her cheekes,
And in ſome perfumes is there more delight,
Then in the breath that from my Miſtres reekes.
I loue to heare her ſpeake,yet well I know,
That Muſicke hath a farre more pleaſing found:
I graunt I neuer ſaw a goddeſſe goe,
My Miſtres when ſhee walkes treads on the ground.
And yet by heauen I thinke my loue as rare,
As any ſhe beli'd with falſe compare.

Why not download the poster of the poem and frame or laminate it for your waiting room or staffroom? You order Shakespeare's Sonnets published by many publishers from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Robert Louis Stevenson: Early Life

A brief overview of Robert Louis Stevenson's Life

Friday, 30 May 2008

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Robert Louis Stevenson - Bed in Summer

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was born on November 13, 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was an only child and was sickly so spent a lot of time in bed. After studying law at Edinburgh University, he travelled for four years around Europe and the USA, spending a lot of time in California. He moved back to Europe but was plagued by ill health. This was when he wrote A Child's Garden of Verses and his popular classics, Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr Jeyll and Mr Hyde.

In 1888 he started travelling the Pacific with his family, spending time in palces like Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa. In 1890, he purcahsed land in Samoa and lived and wrote there until he died on December 3, 1894.

The natives insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night, and on bearing their Tusitala (Samoan for "Story Writer") upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea and buried him on a spot overlooking the sea. A tablet was placed there, bearing this epitaph:

“ Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”

If you want to study the poem 'Bed in Summer' with your primary school child or class, here is a link to a worksheet.

There are more of his poems in his most popular book
A Child's Garden of Verses'

Why not download the poster of the poem and frame or laminate it for your waiting room or staffroom? You order 'A Child's Garden of Verses' by Robert Louis Stevenson published by many publishers from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Leigh Hunt - Jenny Kissed Me

Leigh Hunt
James Henry Leigh Hunt was born into a poor family near London in 1784 and died in 1859. He was an essayist, critic, poet, and publisher. But he was not a renowned poet, though his poem “Jenny Kissed Me,” included in our first leaflet, has been enjoyed and often quoted for nearly two centuries. However, he lived during an age of English Romanticism and was influential in the lives of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats. He was also contemporary with Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Charles Dickens. Such great company has given him a distinguished status.

He and his brother, John created a political weekly in 1808 that established their liberal reputation called the Examiner. One section on “Young Poets” gave Keats and Shelley access to valuable space where some of their first works were published.
In 1812 the Hunts wrote an article that called the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, “a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps.” As a result, both brothers were convicted by a jury of libel and sentenced to two years in prison.

Though he continued to write for the Examiner while in prison, Leigh Hunt’s separation from his family convinced him to turn away from political writing and to focus on literary writing.

About "Jenny Kissed Me"
In 1835 Leigh Hunt and his large family moved to Chelsea in London and became neighbor to poet and author, Thomas Carlyle, at his suggestion. The two became close friends and Hunt’s home was always open to his circle of friends, of which there were many.

Two stories exist. One story is that Leigh Hunt visited the Carlyles to deliver the news that he was going to publish one of Thomas Carlyle’s poems. When the news was delivered to Carlyle’s wife, Jane, she jumped up and kissed him.

The more common story is that during one winter Hunt was sick with influenza and absent for so long that when he finally recovered and went to visit the Carlyles, Jane jumped up and kissed him as soon as he appeared at the door. Two days later one of the Hunt servants delivered a note, addressed, “From Mr. Hunt to Mrs. Carlyle.” containing the first draft of the poem, “Jenny Kissed Me.”

Read this article for a more detailed analysis of the poem.

You can download a poster of his poem 'Jenny Kissed Me' on the sidebar. Why not print it out and frame or laminate it for display in your waiting room or staff room?
The poem is included in 'The Oxford Book of English Verse' published by OUP and you can order on Amazon or at any good bookshop.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Leaflets Printed

The lovely lads from printworld in Clondalkin have printed our leaflets and they're all ready to send out.

Who can Apply?
Any organisation with a waiting room in Kildare can contact us(leave a comment) to order a set of leaflets to leave for their visitors. The leaflets are issued free with an information and guidelines sheet included in each pack. There is a suggested donation of €20 for each institution, to cover postage and costs but this is not mandatory.

Words Worth Waiting For
Poems in the Waiting Room is a project to supply a short collection of poems for people in waiting rooms in County Kildare. These can be doctor's surgeries, dentists, medical centres, county council offices, hospitals, libraries, clinics, day centres, social welfare offices, NCT centres, anywhere the public has to wait. The waiting room is the one place that at some point, everyone has to pause. It is a room full of strangers that levels us and where we have a chance to reflect. Poetry can help humanise these impersonal places. And hopefully, some people will take away something more than a brief relief to the boredom or worry of the wait. They will take away a newly awakened appreciation of poetry.

What type of poetry?
The poetry is carefully chosen firstly to be accessible. Many people complain of being put off poetry since school so experimental or demanding poetry would not work well in this context. It must also be sensitive to the possible feelings of people in a waiting room, frustrated, worried, even emotionally disturbed. The poetry should speak to all parts of the community. Poems will include those from from contemporary poets with a preference for Kildare based writers. This new work will be put alongside older poems, which are familiar to the older generation, poems for children, which are also enjoyed by adults.

Funds permitting, we will publish more issues. It would be good to tie in poetry readings in some of the waiting rooms. If you have suggestions for poems for future leaflets, please let us know.

Poems in the Waiting Room is supported by the nice people at Kildare County Council Arts Service.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

NESF Report shows Arts have strong social bias

We're finally getting closer to a publication. Meanwhile I bring you a report on breaking down the barriers to the arts.

The National Economic Social Forum launched on Monday 25th February 2008 has a report which directly compares people from different social backgrounds who listen to or watch the equivalent amount of arts coverage on TV and radio and found that even with an equivalent interest, people from a less well-off background were much less likely to attend arts events. Dr Maureen Gaffney said "the report underlined the need to dismantle barriers that block participation in cultural events." Surely Poems in the Waiting Room helps with this?

Seamus Brennan the minister called it "a wakeup call for to all of us who ae committed to increasing opportunities for access to arts and culture for all of our people."

Arts for All - including poetry.