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Staff at SLRON recite and film their favourite poems to mark Poetry Day Ireland

To celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on the 28th April 2022, staff at St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network held special readings of their favourite poems, in the garden of their Rathgar hospital. The recitations were recorded and edited into a special video compilation of selected poetry.

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A number of staff took part in the readings including Palliative Clinical Nurse Supervisor Barbara Hamilton who read two extracts from Khalil Gibran’s, The Prophet. You can watch Barbara’s reading here …. https://bit.ly/3s8THyd while Dr Maeve O’Reilly who is also part of the Palliative Care team read Denise Blake’s poem, And They All Lived Happily https://bit.ly/3FehaTD

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The idea to hold and film the poetry readings was the brainchild of the St Luke’s Arts Co-ordinator Ema Staunton who initially asked staff to pick out pieces that had meaning and resonated for them. Ema says “The feedback from staff has been very positive, the readings were very uplifting. It was a very enjoyable project.”

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As a committee member of the Irish Arts and Health Co-ordinators, Ema helped to pick the final selection of poems that were given to St Luke’s patients in a special publication called Menu of Poems. Ema said “Some lovely conversations were sparked with patients as I handed out the poems. We left copies for patients to enjoy in all three of the Saint Luke’s sites in Rathgar, St James and Beaumont.”

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The lead on this poetry project was Saolta Arts who run the west of Ireland’s main Arts and Health programme. Menu of Poems was distributed not just in the St Luke’s Network but also in hospitals and healthcare settings all around the country. You can hear the poets reading their work by clicking –hhtps://saoltaarts.com/stories/menuofpoems.

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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’. 

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.”