Imagined Worlds: Poets Visit

As part of an exhibition shown in the Central Gallery featuring winning poems from the Friends of the Coleridge Society. Two visits consisted of 4 poets working across Combe, Midford and Waterhouse wards. One poet joined the Stitch in Time workshops and the felt work activity reflected conversations around poetry, Coleridge and other well-known poets.

The poets found it a very valuable experience; they hadn’t worked in a hospital setting before and kept an open mind from the outset as some patients were open to the idea of poetry and some were not; in these cases the poets chatted about the patient’s interests and sometimes the conversation came back to poetry or the lives of poets. Two visiting poets wrote poems in response to their visits.

Pastel Saints – By Christopher Jelley

Beyond atrium, ramps and fob-locked doors

Past checker plate rub spots and art peppered corridors

Past vistas of ferns and sky fall mirrors

Quadrants behind glass the exterior interiors

Past hand pumps and caution signs

Steel pinned limbs and Nursing Times

And into the machine of the gentle flesh

Pastel uniforms of the patiently blessed

Into the hustle and hush with the elegant at ease

A place of graft – nurture – repair

Alabaster skins and orthopaedic chairs

Silver locks from fairy dells

Bedside valves and charts and hand wash gels

Crows feet and laughter lines

Consumed by sleep and the parlour of time

Through shimmering moments of repose

Pale blanket laid across knees and toes

One patient talking, talking, talking

The muscle of the words repairing reforming

A stroke of genius swept aside

The foam of thought raw and tired

Histories upon histories wrap and fold

Knitting refracting retying connections

(Discussion paused for X-Ray inspections)

Further wards echo the same

Pastel saints glide elegantly restrained

Guiding these passengers to calmer waters

With the bed-side guardians of grandsons and daughters

These fragile vessels with ruptured hoards

Besieged by time and natures discords

Frailty and fortune through stormy weathers

Come repair come expire these mortal tethers

This eddy of ages so accumulates

Yet they change the odds here to this inevitable escape


Felt made by patients during a workshop

“Two patients wanted to
respond to Wadsworths ‘Daffodils’ which they had heard in the morning. We created two beautiful felt images of daffodils on a rich green background. To date all the felt panels have been abstract. I believe we can develop images now and create pictures if the patient has a particular interest or inspiration.

Ian absolutely sums up the process. I really hope that we may have the opportunity to work with the poets again.”

Edwina Bridgeman, Artist     

“It was an honour to sit and listen to David, Ivy and Les and I hope I have managed to capture something of their thoughts and memories without distorting their perspectives too much. The process has reminded me that poems should speak directly and practically for as many people as possible.”                                                                                                                                                                      

Ian Enters, Poet


For Ivy – BY Ian Enters

I wince when I think of school,

Blanked out most memories.

It was no use at all.

Poetry? You having me on.


I recall a teacher holding a clock.

We chanted the time

As she moved the hands

Midday to Midnight

Quarter by quarter

While minutes inched by

Like the dripping of water

From the girls’ toilet tap

Out in the yard fenced from the fields.


My brother, he bunked off most days,

Nipped to the farm at first cock,

Blew dandelion seeds for his clock.

And despite poverty, he stayed out of the loop.

Nobody trained him to stay in his coop.

But a sudden wind blew his burning rubbish

Against his leg when he was in his yard.

He grinned and bore it. He was a card.


Ah, but money is nothing and won’t buy you ease.

It’s hard to be ill after independent years.

My daughters came yesterday.

I go home today.

Time passes quickly now

While my grandchildren play.