HSE marks Poetry Day in Ireland

Imelda May’s Stargazer Selected for ‘Menu of Poems’ for patients and staff of Irish hospitals for Poetry Day Ireland 

Today (Thursday, 28th April) to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland, a Menu of Poems will be distributed throughout Irish hospital wards, waiting rooms and other healthcare settings for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. The poetry was selected by Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins, who was asked to include a poem of her own.

Menu of Poems takes the form of a short anthology of poetry which is distributed annually to healthcare users in a range of healthcare settings. Produced by Saolta Arts on behalf of Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, supported by Poetry Ireland and HSE Health Promotion and Improvement, over 10,000 people in healthcare settings will receive the Menu of Poems on Poetry Day Ireland.  The anthology 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 it will be available at https://saoltaarts.com/stories/menu-of-poems/ . 

Since its conception in 2008, Menu of Poems has been a positive development in the lives of both patients and those who work in healthcare settings across Ireland. The poetry is circulated on meal trays in hospitals and other healthcare settings with participating healthcare providers organising readings and workshops for Poetry Day Ireland.

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.”

Liz Kelly, Director of Poetry Ireland, said, “We are once again delighted to see the Menu of Poems forming such an integral part of Poetry Day Ireland and being offered in healthcare settings at several locations throughout Ireland. Poems have been such a salve to so many of us throughout our lives and in addressing the challenges of the past two years. The selection of poets featuring diverse and enriching voices is wonderful and everyone who selects from this menu is in for a treat.’’

Margaret Flannery, Arts Director at Saolta Arts said, “Menu of Poems continues to grow its audience annually and this year we are delighted to introduce two new elements. Rita Ann selected a poem that we will produce in a poster format especially for paediatric health settings and all the poetry is available to listen to online. I would like to thank the poets involved for their recordings as we can reach more people and share the selection widely.”

The following hospitals and centres will participate in Menu of Poems 2022:

  • Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork
  • Arts in Health at Cork University Hospital
  • Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary Community Health Organisation
  • Galway, Mayo Roscommon Community Health Organisation
  • Saolta Arts and Saolta University Health Care Group incorporating University Hospital Galway, Merlin Park University Hospital, Mayo University Hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital, Roscommon University Hospital, Sligo University Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital
  • Kildare County Council Arts and Health Programme
  • Naas General Hospital Arts Committee
  • Arts and Health Programme at Tallaght University Hospital
  • St. Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny
  • St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network in Dublin, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin
  • University Limerick Hospitals Group incorporating University Hospital Limerick, Limerick Maternity Hospital, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Hospital
  • Waterford Healing Arts Trust
  • West Cork Mental Health Services Arts and Health Programme, and
  • Wexford General Hospital.  
Last updated on: 28 / 04 / 2022