Sunday, October 6, 2013

Writing and art

Yesterday was the first time I facilitated a health linked writing workshop outside the comfort zone of health care education - it was at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle.  I wanted to facilitate a writing workshop that responded to the art exhibited there at the moment by people affected by Parkinson’s disease. I have written about the exhibition before, Brain Box, as I find it deeply moving and feel it deserves a larger audience. That said we had the launch evening at the Lit and Phil and it was wonderfully warm and intimate evening. Some of us read poems and Jan Sopher (the artist behind the work and the curator) read a piece from Waterlogged by Roger Deakin.

Participants at yesterday’s workshop produced some wonderful work and we are hoping to collate the pieces into a little pamphlet that can be read alongside the pieces in the exhibition.

I wrote a poem for Thursday’s event and I felt a little daunted but I gave myself the task of writing about celebrity and illness. I found some information out about a famous photographer from the 1950’s who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and I wrote about her. It took a while to develop but I felt it needed attention before I was OK about it and the response on the evening was positive.

I acknowledge the source of the inspiration and hope that I attribute the source and have changed the tone by writing poetry in response to the prose.

Anyway here it is for others to read....

Embracing Parkinson's

She wanted to tell her story, reveal it

all on the page tell it all to “Life” magazine.

A photographer of renown she had captured

Roosevelt, Stalin, Gandhi, to name but a few.

Maggie the Indestructible,

seemingly always in the right

place at the right time.

 Then she became frozen not shaken.

Her fingers stiffened so she could no longer

press the shutter, focus her lens.

Going public with private issues -

a diagnosis and experimental  destruction

of cells in her thalamus by her god like surgeon

Her celebrity raised awareness

but unwise choices may have had


She didn't accept the disease

She tried to squeeze it out,

eliminate it.

A message that extends

across half a century as another

famous name comes out with her lost voice

Telling the world she’s not taking the pills

until she's spinning on the spot.

Do we seek a wise role model?

or do we revel in a celebrated warrior?


Written in response to an article in The Atlantic by Barron H Lerner about Margaret Bourke-White


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