Friday is Library Day for patients on Arden Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital.
And, if you didn’t know already, reading is very good for your mental health. (Probably not if it’s by Piers Morgan or the Tory party manifesto, mind.)
Reading quality literature and poetry, however, is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Quite serendipitously, I came across this collection of poetry by Mary Dickins entitled Happiness FM. I thought her poem, ‘How to administer a poem in an emergency’ was perfectly apt for the group. So, I thought I’d share it with you.
And here is the poem from whence the collection takes its name.
Of course, our visits to the library aren’t just about reading. They’re about social interaction and doing other mindful activities.
At the time, all I could do was write a poem as I, like billions around the globe, bore witness to the calamitous event unfolding before us.
I felt impotent. I tried to sell prints of my poem for $1 online to raise funds, to no avail.
I wished I was something useful like a doctor or a nurse, or a rescue worker that could do something practical to help.
Then I thought of all the creative people I had encountered during my long career as an art director in the advertising industry and I asked them for help. The response was phenomenal. I got donations of works of art from all over the world to be put into an auction to raise money for the Red Cross who were working on the ground over there.
Less than a month later, we held the Japan Art Auction at Jonathan Oakes photography studio in Manchester, hosted by The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. It was an incredible success and, thanks to a great many people, we raised quite a few grand.
A lot has changed in 10 years. As you can see by the photos in The Guardian link above.
Things have changed for me too. I am now a Nursing Assistant at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.
And, whilst my poem did not raise a single dollar, it did inspire Austrian composer Albors Pascal Askari to write this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. All the proceeds from which also went to the Japan relief effort.
And, unbeknownst to me, my poem was on the English curriculum at several schools in London for a couple of years.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte.
Haworth, where the Brontes lived, holds a special place in my, (and my children’s), hearts.
We visit the place as often as we can.
Here’s a little haiku I penned after a walk on the Moors with my daughters a couple of years back.
Knee deep in heather,
Bright red sock wavers aloft,
Boot stuck in peat bog.
Brontë Parsonage Museum
Brontë dining room
This is the room where, Emily, Anne and Charlotte did most of their writing. And that is the actual sofa in the background that Emily died on aged just 30. (I didn’t pass that information on to my children.)
Patrick Brontë’s study
If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet, I urge you to do so. I promise you, it’s like nothing you have ever read before. It’s a complex and staggeringly passionate tale of unrequited love and dastardly deeds, set amidst the bleak and rugged Yorkshire Moors.
And, if you get the chance, watch the recent film adaptation by Andrea Arnold. It’s a pretty radical take on the book and one of the best interpretations I’ve seen to date. (See trailer below.)
It’s not just the collective brilliance of the Brontë siblings that I find inspiring, but the whole beautifully barren backdrop of the moors. That, coupled with the picturesque cobbled streets of Haworth itself, makes perfect for a day out.
“Top Withens” Emily’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)
“Top Withens” as it would’ve looked back in Emily’s day.
P.S. It’d be positively churlish of me not to also include this classic by Kate Bush… whose 60th birthday it also is today. Bit of a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?
This is my first post of 2015. (Not including my last post which was a reblog.)
I started following a blog by Ashi Akira and he’s inspired me to get my haiku quill out. (It’s a fascinating blog – particularly the story about the Japanese and American WWII fighter pilots – well worth a visit.)