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Poet Sean’s invitation to write about nurses and midwives

A nationally acclaimed poet is helping Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) to go “Beyond the Mask” and ask what the public thinks about its nurses and midwives during the coronavirus epidemic.

Headshot of Sean Borodale looking at the camera
Poet Sean Borodale

CUH Arts has appointed Sean Borodale as guiding poet for a project called ‘Beyond the Mask’, which is aimed at capturing patients’, visitors’ and residents’ innermost thoughts on those working behind their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Sean, who has won, or been shortlisted for, a variety of important national awards, wants to receive poems or written work of any kind, which he will weave into one dedicated poem to gift to staff. It will mark International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

In a dedicated video on the Trust website Sean, who wrote Bee Journal (shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize) said:  “At this very difficult time, when nurses and midwives are working so hard around the world, it seems a wonderful opportunity to bring together diverse voices into a single poem. 

You can share your writing in whatever way feels natural to you, and the important thing is to write in your own unique voice, in your own unique way, to share what it is you want to say about nursing - the celebrations, the joy, the difficulties, the challenges, the quiet moments and the social moments.

The poem is the latest in a long list of initiatives by CUH Arts, which is funded by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and delivers a year-round programme of arts activities, events and exhibitions, helping to relax patients, lift their mood and bring warmth to a clinical environment.

Its flagship project is called Dance for Health, which is a weekly creative movement and music programme for adult patients. Alongside the participatory arts programme, it manages the Trust’s collection of over 4000 paintings and a gallery in the heart of the hospital.

Head of Arts, Natalie Ellis, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have Sean working on another important initiative to help mark International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The final poem will capture the voice of our community at what is an historic moment in time, and will be there for generations to come, to read and reflect on what nurses and midwives meant to us.

My appeal to patients, former patients, visitors, and the wider public, is to join in by writing words from the heart. It can be poetry or prose and doesn’t have to be word perfect. What we want is to hear your voices.

Contributions should be sent to CUH Arts by Sunday 20 June 2020 via email:
Further information about the project can be found on the CUH Arts Facebook page and by following @ArtsCuh on Twitter.

Picture by: Mark Vessey_pubicity