Menu of Poems

for patients and staff of Irish hospitals on Poetry Day Ireland
Menu of Poems 2022, the latest in the annual initiative bringing poetry to patients and staff in hospitals and other healthcare settings all over Ireland, this year includes a poem by well-known singer Imelda May called ‘Stargazer’.  Menu of Poems is an anthology of poetry distributed to healthcare users on their meal trays and is produced each year to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland, this year taking place today, Thursday 28 April.

Menu of Poems 2022 was curated by poet Rita Ann Higgins and produced by Saolta Arts on behalf of Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, supported by Poetry Ireland and HSE Health Promotion and Improvement, and will be delivered to over 10,000 people in healthcare settings.  In addition to Imelda May’s poem, the anthology also includes ‘Eliza Analyser’ by Catherine Ann Cullen, ‘Gazebo’ by Martina Evans and ‘Lucky Mrs Higgins’ by Rita Ann Higgins.  Recordings of each poem, read by the poet, are 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 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.

Commenting on her experience selecting the poems, Rita Ann Higgins 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.”

Liz Kelly, Director of Poetry Ireland, added: “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 are participating in Menu of Poems 2022: Waterford Healing Arts Trust and University Hospital Waterford; 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; National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght; 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; West Cork Mental Health Services Arts and Health Programme and Wexford General Hospital.

The Menu of Poems is also available to anyone working in a healthcare facility to print and distribute in their own locations.  Downloadable version and recordings available at: https://saoltaarts.com/stories/menu-of-poems/  Further information from saoltaarts@hse.ie  For information on Poetry Day Ireland visit http://www.poetryday.ie/