Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lapidus Meeting

We have had a wonderful weekend in North Yorkshire - stayed in a flat in what might be one of my favourite places in the UK.
Here are some snaps to remind me of what I got up to!!
View from attic room at Captain Cook Memorial Museum

View back up bridleway leading into Commondale

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Art Speaks

Amongst the chatter, the tea and scones,
lies a laden message; not for the feint hearted.

Cameras flash, people share their views.
In an intimate space, a crowd gathers.

Here are snapshots of a complex condition,
images of its intrusion stark to the unprepared.

It is only in the shuffling gait, the stony face,
the awkward cup holding can one hazard

a guess what lies beneath, what has
 brought them together in this space.

Lit and Phil Late Shows

I have taken the plunge and signed up to be an "artist" at the Lit and Phil on 18th May at The Late Shows . I have been working hard to create my exhibition that will invite people to make their own little artist's book that articulates their "Moral Compass".
What do you think?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brain Box

Here is a link to more information about the exhibition. The Centre for Medical  Humanities kindly shared information about it during the week.

Not one of the club

Today I had the privilege of attending the opening of a beautiful but poignant art exhibition in Hartlepool. I was moved, humbled and puzzled by the works of art. Ask to produce a piece in response to living with Parkinson's disease there are a myriad of responses.
Moved by how profoundly expressive the pieces are, humbled by the talent on display and puzzled by a healthcare system that still does not provide room for people to express themselves in profound and important ways to the people responsible for providing their care - treatment reviews, medication prescribing etc. If we suggest art as a way for patients to express themselves or as a way of changing the conversation in the clinic we have to provide a long list of justifications and think of ways of measuring its effectiveness. Just looking at the works of art today made me realise just how powerful it is and maybe that is what the scientists are really worried about - patient power and a change in the relationship.

I also felt very much an outsider looking in - not a comfortable place but not uncomfortable either - just different - a poem is lurking...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Narrative Threads

When I was doing my PhD research in 1997 - 1999 I interviewed a number of people with diabetes three times over a period of 18 months. As I analysed the content of these interviews that asked them to focus on recent experiences of clinic visits and interactions with health care professionals I was very struck by the inconsistencies evident in their accounts. Over time they would contradict themselves or alter the stories about events in the past or expectations about the future. I was very struck by this inconsistency and felt it had an important lesson for us in relation to how people make sense of their condition and the health care that they receive. I became interested in narrative and story making. 
 Yesterday's workshop at the lit and Phil with the wonderful Sheree Mack invited us to explore narrative and storytelling. This led me to revisit this issue and the literature I was reading back then to help make sense of what was going on in my PhD data. I read Jerome Bruner's work and became fascinated with how this new learning could help to shape practice and transform the patients' experience in the clinical encounter. Unfortunately I did not have supervisors who could support me on this journey and I got stuck in a mire of trying to tidy up and identify themes and issues in the data rather than present each story as a whole. Anyway enough of my frustrations!!

Revisiting this subject has been truly inspiring and has helped me articulate at least one of my issues about my unsuccessful attempts at being Dr Sue.

This poem has been inspired by Bruner's work and is my poem for today.
A Self-made Story
Accumulated over twenty years
she does not feel It needs a change.
Her true story just moves around
after it has been shared.
Different audiences,
different decorations.
Shaped as much by life
since it was first told
and circumstances
of when it first happened.
Nothing made up,
deception not the intent.
Memory constrains
the possible fabrication.
Truthfulness important
but the esteem
and myriad expectations
of others shape the telling
each time it is told.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Poetry stormed into my life in 2004 when I was not looking for it. I was trying to write up my PhD and failing. I met Julia Darling and her mission to bring poetry into healthcare changed the course of my career. My first poems were written from the research interviews with people with diabetes. I wrote them without thinking too much about what they were "doing” and wrote them in response to my need to be able to re-present the experiences of the people I had interviewed during my research.

Today I have gone back to that intent - closing the gap between patient and health care professional. Julia and I talked about that a lot and she saw poetry as powerful way of closing that gap. I still believe that gulf is still there and maybe I can do something about it.

This poem came from an article written by Havi Carel and Jane McNaughton in the Lancet that can be found here :

The poem was inspired by Havi’s blog on the King’s Fund website yesterday and a conversation I had this afternoon with a Design PhD student.



We seek to create
a shared world.
Reconciliation may lead
to different meanings.
Change the conversation.

This body lies before you
it is different, altered.
Sense and order need to be
made from this chaos.
We swing between
unknowing and understanding.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Creating Things

Feel a lot better - after walking the dog this morning I needed to create.
These creations are the result.

I helped write poetry with others today. Six were written - without permission I can not post them here but they are all wonderful. Four were written from chopped up poems and two from song titles. A great afternoon and very nurturing for all involved.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sublime to ridiculous

Yesterday's poem came from words plucked from a scientific paper Sheree Mack shared at Lit and Phil workshop last month. Looking forward to the next one.

No Muse in Front of Telly

Tea or coffee
What will it be for me
I don't like rhyme
And try an avoid it
At all times
A dry day for poetry

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The day after


There is a wide gulf
Between learning
And memory.
Any sense we experience
Might be imagined.
In an instance
We can only recall
A glimpse of ourselves.

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Missing

Hadn't realised how disruptive to a writing goal a weekend can be..
Anyway the thought is there all the time and the discipline of writing a poem every day is great idea. Not that they will be any good but it's good practice.

Monday 8th April

Snow falls on her morning path.
She wipes away her tears
with her glove. Thinks that
April is a cruel month
until the news breaks.

Her thoughts hurtle back
33 years - her first vote.
Career choices made
because of a disrupted world
and heartless politics.

She wipes away her tears
with an oven glove. Tries
to explain broken towns
and the jobless to her
growing daughter.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Missing day

Travelled to Shropshire and missed a day!!
Travelled 250 miles to learn that I know a bit more about writing poetry than I give myself credit. Enjoyed a workshop with Pascale Petit in Much Wenlock but quickly realised that I enjoy workshops much more when I know others like at Lit & Phil with the wonderful Sheree Mack. Have just been given an iPad mini for my birthday so am writing this from Bishops Castle.. The wonders of technology.

You rub shoulders with strangers
Share a small piece of your story

Keep secret the distance travelled
In case they think you special

No prizes for furthest away
From home.
New poems read
New artists discovered
Much to take away

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 4 - Fourth poem

Paper review

Lost in a sea
of political verbosity.

Stuck in a time warp
persuade, cajole -
all artifice, academic?

Slick patter,
just chatter,

not a bedtime read.

Musing Social Class

With all the attention to the new classifications for the "Great British class System” I was busy ignoring it - then my Dad and siblings got involved so I had a quick look. I came out as "elite" - well I can't think this is right. I have now completed it 3 times and it still comes out the same - down to my social capital apparently. I had been keen to reject this BUT then I realised... It's the writing (principally poetry ) community that has enriched my life - the people I know socially are artists and writers (and some of us both). That adds to my social capital plus 2 new friends are entrepreneurs and have their own businesses.

So it has given me much to think about - how rich the writing community is and also how lucky I am to have met some wonderful women over the last couple of years. I need to pay attention to the notion that "elite” does not mean "better than" but that I am extremely blessed and should have more faith in myself and my networks.

Mustn't get big headed though!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 3 of NapoWriMo

Fools Day

Two days in and I limp,
limp to the edge of things.

Breath held and eyelids closed,
such things should pass
unnoticed by many if it
were not for these things.

These things that are not spoken,
move on, take note – venture forth.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reblog Diabetes Coaches Help Patients Win Better Health - Voice of OC | Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: Healthy Communities

I worked as aDiabetes Specialist Nurse and left becasue the medical model over ran human beings. I have been advocating this approach for a wee while...

Diabetes Coaches Help Patients Win Better Health - Voice of OC | Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: Healthy Communities: It’s an intriguing idea: Coach people into being more effective patients who can ask doctors better questions and seek clarification about med…

Another one

Truth and loss

April is not the kindest month.

Metal rusts after the snow,
cold winds do not abate.

We seek solace in snowdrops
their heads bent in the Spring chill.

It is not what we hoped for
we dare to  linger longer.

Poem Two

I suppose it all comes down to what you want to lie about

It doesn’t really matter, she thought
if the phone  never rings, I really don’t care.
The rain can go on raining,
the temperature does not need to rise.
I can wear my boots all year,
the Mary-Janes can stay in their box.

It doesn’t matter much if we
only have two seasons this year.

The daffodils stunted, tulips withered.
I am not bothered by any of this, she said.
Name of my Summer House

Monday, April 1, 2013

Reblogged from Every Day Creativity 2013: NaPoWriMo - Day 1

Every Day Creativity 2013: NaPoWriMo - Day 1: There was so much                   so much green. Everything merging               for a lifetime it seemed. They caught in my eyes...


It is National Poetry Month in America and as part of that celebration there is a "Write a Poem a Day" challenge. I have committed to it on twitter via Carrie Etter  so here is my first offering in response to the prompt from and a photo taken at Wylam yesterday.

April Begins
let the tearing layers
of dark and light take flight
move swiftly, not linger
time will smooth jagged rocks

question the history –
no answer yet heard
First line taken from "Clouds" by Katrina Porteus in The Lost Music Bloodaxe Books