Thursday 17 August 2017

Waiting room reading gets a dose of poetry

Medical waiting rooms are preparing to throw out celebrity magazines in favour of Shakespearean sonnets or the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

A new project is encouraging medical reception areas around the county to swap celebrity fodder like Now magazine and Closer for more intellectual reading.

Poetry is being distributed to waiting areas in the form of leaflets with one poem on each one.

The poems will start out in Naas Hospital Kildare, libraries around the county and GP reception areas in the first stage of the project which is funded by the county council.

For June and July, people around the county will be able to enjoy a selection of 2,000 poems and to fill their waiting time with some relaxing reading time.

Poems in the Waiting Room is a pilot arts project funded by Kildare County Council. The idea was driven by Kildare-based writer Kate Dempsey.

It was inspired by pieces of public sculpture dotted across the country. The idea is to make poetry an art form that is available in ordinary everyday places.

They aim to bring poetry back into public spaces, like the Poetry in Motion project that puts poems on the Dart, which was started over 10 years ago.

Then in 2005, the NHS in Britain introduced a similar project to bring poetry to medical waiting rooms in particular.

Patients in participating surgeries were able to pick up copies of the poetry leaflets, with half a dozen or more poems, to read while they wait and to take home with them.

It started with a handful of GP surgeries around Richmond and Surrey and then the project expanded to more than 3,000 waiting rooms.

That project supported by the Poetry Society and the Arts Council.


For the Kildare pilot, works of poetry were carefully selected to be accessible and age appropriate to the environment of waiting rooms.

They are made up of a mixture of old, new and even a poem for children.

The poem leaflets are offered free of charge and visitors are encouraged to take one read it and then recycle it by leaving it in another waiting room.

Poems that are no longer copyrighted can also be downloaded from their website http://pitwr.blogspot.com/ on A4 posters to print for display.

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