Review: These Are The Hands: Poems from the Heart of the NHS @fairacrepress @NHSCharities

Thank-You-NHS-1 *source*


This anthology offers a unique insight into the real experiences of the people at the heart of the NHS – from the student nurse at the start of his career to the heart surgeon on the eve of her retirement. We also hear the stories of those whose vital work is often unseen and unsung from domestic cleaning staff to sign language interpreters. The poems offer unflinchingly honest and intimate accounts from the people who care for us from the moment of birth to the end of life. In crystallising the most beautiful and painful moments of being human, they speak directly to all our experience. Above all these poems are about our shared humanity. They are about the compassion and care that lie at the heart of the NHS and in all our lives. They also serve as a stark reminder of the human cost of trying to offer compassionate care in a system that is underfunded and understaffed and the importance of showing the same compassion and support to the staff we depend on to hold the NHS together.

Leading UK poets have donated poems to this anthology including Michael Rosen, Roger McGough, Lemn Sissay, Sabrina Mahfouz, Kate Clanchy, Sam Guglani, Charly Cox, Molly Case,  Wendy Cope and the estates of UA Fanthorpe, Dannie Abse and Julia Darling.

All proceeds from this book will go to NHS Charities Together which supports over 135 official NHS Charities raising money for NHS hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental health services across the UK.

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My review

At this moment we have been in a global pandemic for 4 months (I wish this was the start of the review for an apocalyptic book but, unfortunately, it isn’t). At the time of writing Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, has hit 188 countries, infected more than 8.4 million people and taken the lives of at least 450,000 people.

During this time, in the United Kingdom, U.K. , our front line workers have become even more invaluable. These include, but are not exclusively, shop workers, delivery driver, carers and medical staff. The only thing that is between the front line workers and the public is, at minimum, a face mask and a pair of gloves. Full P.P.E. (Personal Protection Equipment) is not always available. Doctors have been called out of retirement and final year medical/nursing students have been called to these front lines for the N.H.S. (National Health Service). Thursday evenings at 8pm clapping, cheering and banging of pots can be heard far and wide crying out the thanks and admiration to the N.H.S. and other front line workers

In These Are The Hands we are reading poems that are exceptionally raw, emotional accounts of feelings and situations that the medical staff of the N.H.S. are dealing with. Gritty, gut wrenching, very thought invoking words will just leap out of the pages and into your mind. Personally, I could not read it in one sitting as it was so intense but it was well worth reading.

As stated in the synopsis, all proceeds from the sales of this book will go to N.H.S. Charities Together which supports over 135 official N.H.S. Charities raising money for N.H.S. hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental health services across the UK. Covid-19 has taken a toll on funding and this is your chance to help aid the N.H.S.

Stay-home-stay-safe *source*

Thank you to Nadia at Fair Acre Press for my copy of These Are The Hands. I have also bought a paperback copy since reading.

Meet the Author (1)Michael Rosen was born in 1946 in North London. One of the best-known figures in the children’s book world, he is renowned for his work as a poet, performer, broadcaster and scriptwriter. As an author and by selecting other writers’ works for anthologies he has been involved with over 140 books. He lectures and teaches in universities on children’s literature, reading and writing. Michael is a familiar voice to BBC listeners and is currently presenting Word of Mouth, the magazine programme that looks at the English language and the way we use it. He visits schools with his one-man show to enthuse children with his passion for books and poetry. He was one of the first poets to make visits to schools throughout the UK and has also visited schools throughout the world. Michael Rosen started writing poetry when he was twelve years old, creating satirical poems about people he knew. His parents, who were both teachers and distinguished educators, were from the Jewish East End tradition, their parents and/or grandparents coming form Poland/ Russia/Romania. He went to various state schools in Pinner, Harrow and Watford and by the time he was sixteen he was an avid poetry reader, especially enjoying DH Lawrence’s poems and James Joyce’s ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.’ He started to write ‘deadly serious’ poems about things he had done when he was much younger, about girls and about ‘nature.’ In the sixth form he was introduced to the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Although he tried to write in a similar style, the results, he says, ‘were incomprehensible and very boring.’ Michael attended Middlesex Hospital Medical School for a year

Deborah Alma is a UK poet who teaches Creative Writing at Keele University where she is an Honorary Research Fellow. She has worked using poetry with people with dementia, in hospice care, with vulnerable women’s groups and with children in schools. She is also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She is editor of Emergency Poet- An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology; The Everyday Poet- Poems to Live By; #Me Too – Rallying Against Sexual Harassment- A Women’s Poetry Anthology and Ten Poems of Happiness. Her first, full collection, Dirty Laundry is published by Nine Arches Press. She co-founded the world’s first walk-in Poetry Pharmacy in Shropshire with her partner the poet James Sheard featured on the BBC and Sky TV.

Dr Katie Amiel is a GP working in Hackney, London. She is a member of the Royal College of General Practioners’ (RCGP) Wellbeing Committee, is a trained teacher of MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) and has run many workshops, courses and training events on health professional mental health, wellbeing and compassion including work for the Practitioner Health Programme. She founded The Bigger Picture, a collaborative project with the RCGP. This aims to improve health professional wellbeing and patient care by offering a wider perspective including the arts and humanities and give opportunities for healthcare staff to develop, showcase and celebrate their creative talents. Its key themes of connection, compassion, creativity, curiosity and contemplation are being explored through inspiring talks, events, workshops, exhibitions, a literary festival and this anthology.


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