Poet Rita Ann Higgins. Photo courtesy of Saolta Arts.

Poet Rita Ann Higgins. Photo courtesy of Saolta Arts.

To celebrate Poetry Day Ireland on Thursday 28 April, a Menu of Poems will be distributed throughout Irish hospital wards, waiting rooms and other healthcare settings for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. The poetry was selected by Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins, who was asked to include a poem of her own.

Menu of Poems takes the form of a short anthology of poetry which is distributed annually to healthcare users in a range of healthcare settings. Over 10,000 people in healthcare settings will receive the Menu of Poems on Poetry Day Ireland 2022. The anthology is produced by Saolta Arts on behalf of Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, and supported by Poetry Ireland and HSE Health Promotion and Improvement.

The anthology includes poems by Catherine Ann Cullen (children’s poem ‘Eliza Analyser’), Martina Evans (‘Gazebo’), Imelda May (‘Stargazer’) and Rita Ann Higgins (‘Lucky Mrs Higgins’). The Menu of Poems is available to anyone working in a healthcare facility to print and distribute in their own locations. The poets involved have also kindly recorded the poetry. Recordings and the downloadable format will be available at https://saoltaarts.com/stories/menu-of-poems/

Since its conception in 2008, Menu of Poems has been a positive development in the lives of both patients and those who work in healthcare settings across Ireland. The poetry is circulated on meal trays in hospitals and other healthcare settings with participating healthcare providers organising readings and workshops for Poetry Day Ireland.

It’s not unusual to reach for poems at a time of crises or distress, sometimes poems are all we have to get us over the tough times. Selecting poems for this project was a great pleasure. It made me take down the books I had not read for a while. It was like meeting old friends. In the end the selection made me feel warm and grateful for the powerful voices of Cullen, Evans and May, may the creative force stay with them.’ – Rita Ann Higgins, Poet and Editor of the 2022 Menu of Poems

Participating healthcare settings 
The following hospitals and centres will participate in Menu of Poems 2022: Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork; Arts in Health at Cork University Hospital; Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary Community Health Organisation; Galway, Mayo Roscommon Community Health Organisation;  Saolta Arts and Saolta University Health Care Group incorporating University Hospital Galway, Merlin Park University Hospital, Mayo University Hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital, Roscommon University Hospital, Sligo University Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital; Kildare County Council Arts and Health Programme; Naas General Hospital Arts Committee; National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght; St. Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny; St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network in Dublin, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin; University Limerick Hospitals Group incorporating University Hospital Limerick, Limerick Maternity Hospital, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Hospital; Waterford Healing Arts Trust; West Cork Mental Health Services Arts and Health Programme and Wexford General Hospital.

How can my healthcare setting take part?
If your hospital or healthcare facility would like to take part in Menu of Poems email saoltaarts@hse.ie

Downloadable version and recordings available at:

Rita Ann Higgins was born and lives in Galway. Pathogens Love a Patsy (Pandemic and other Poems) is her 11th book of poetry. Our Killer City, Essays and Poems (2019) and A Memoir Hurting God (2010) are from Salmon Poetry. In 2020 Rita Ann became the People’s Pandemic Poet for The Brendan O’Connor Show on RTE Radio 1. Bloodaxe Books has published several of her collections including; Throw in the Vowels, New and Selected Poems (2005), Ireland is Changing Mother (2011) and Tongulish (2016). She has written several plays. In 2021 she received the Living Poets Society Award. She is a member of Aosdana.

For information on Poetry Day Ireland visit http://www.poetryday.ie/


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