Resources for Poetry and Healthcare

Bloodaxe published the anthology  We Have Come Through: 100 poems celebrating courage in overcoming depression and trauma in June 2003 (edited by Peter Forbes). The anthology was co-published with Survivors Poetry, a national literature and performance charity. Its purpose is to challenge and change the social and cultural definitions of poets and poetry, making connections between creativity and mental health. Details at

Poems in the Waiting Room (PitWR) is a national 'arts in health' charity that provides poetry cards for NHS waiting rooms. Readers keep the pamphlets as an enduring rather than ephemeral link with poetry. The supply is free and no charge whatsoever is made to patients or to their NHS hosts.

Creative Remedies - a new arts and health website currently being developed for health professionals, arts development organisations, and artists; it will showcase good activity and provide advice and networking opportunities for those who are developing arts and health work.

National Network for the Arts in Health (118 Commercial Street Spitalfields London E1 6NF  their website includes a very useful 'general information fact sheet' which discusses planning, Arts Co-ordinators, and visiting other projects; you can also join to receive more detailed information via an extensive bibliography, funding sources, Arts in Health calendar and access to the membership directory.

The Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine (CAHHM) at University of Durham. Director, Dr. Jane Macnaughton. Website includes links and information about research, practice and theory in arts and health issues.

University of Sussex - Creative Writing & Personal Development convened by Dr Celia Hunt, offers the only post-graduate course which deals with "the range of theoretical approaches to thinking about the field, including theory of the author and autobiography, educational theory, theory of social narratives, and the role of narratives and metaphors in counselling and psychotherapy".

Lapidus (BM Lapidus, London WC1N 3XX) - a grassroots organisation dedicated to the therapeutic uses of the literary arts, has future plans to develop a training programme for writers going into healthcare. Website 

Gillie Bolton, Research Fellow, edits the poetry pages for Progress in Palliative Care (carers of the dying) - poets can submit appropriate work addressed to Gillie Bolton at: The University of Sheffield, Institute of General Practice and Primary Care, Community Sciences Centre, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU

LIME (formerly Hospital Arts), Saint Mary's Hospital, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 OJH; tel: 0161 256 4389; e-mail: [email protected] Lime aims "to demonstrate the powerful role the arts can play in well being for those disadvantaged by ill health and those who deliver care, to improve the quality of experience of those who use health facilities or are engaged in health issues, and to involve and support a range of artists through opening up opportunities in hospitals and health related contexts".

A word about funding - poets interested in approaching their RAB for funding proposals should be aware that funds are not always labelled "arts and health", so do enquire. Regional Arts Lottery can help as well as some other general RAB treasury funding schemes.

Suggested Reading

Creative Writing in Health and Social Care, edited by Fiona Sampson (Jessica Kingsley 2004)

Writing My Way Through Cancer, by Myra Schneider (Jessica Kingsley)

Writing Cures: An introductory handbook of writing in counselling and therapy, edited by Colin Lago & Jeannie K. Wright  (Brunner-Routledge)

Attending to the Fact: Staying with Dying, by Hilary Elfick and David Head (Jessica Kingsley)

The Healing Word, a practical guide to poetry and personal development activities, by Fiona Sampson (Poetry Society, 1999)

The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing: Writing Myself, by Gillie Bolton (Jessica Kingsley, 1999)

Writing for Self-Discovery, by John Killick and Myra Schneider (Element, 1997)

The Listening Reader: Fiction and Poetry for Counsellors and Psychotherapists, by B. Knights (Jessica Kingsley, 1995)

Journal of Poetry Therapy (published by Kluwer)

Poetry Therapy: Interface of the Arts and Psychology, by Nicholas Mazza (published by CRC Press)

If you have a poetry in health resource that you feel should be included in this list, please email us.