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The Poetry Cure

ISBN 1-85224-690-1


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The Poetry Cure is an anthology of poems published by Bloodaxe and edited by Julia Darling and Cynthia Fuller. The editors wrote ‘this book of poems is for all of us who go through illness, deal with doctors, hospitals, and experiences such as bereavement and ageing, and who struggle to find language to describe the suffering we have to go through. Medical language baffles and alienates us. It’s a harsh, unforgiving vocabulary that often seems to bear no relationship to our own emotional predicament. In this uplifting anthology we see how poetry can give us metaphors and images to help us understand our feelings and communicate them to people around us.’

‘I believe that poetry can help to make you better. Poetry is essential, not a frill or a nicety.’

It includes poems from Sharon Olds, Adrienne Rich, Anthony Thwaite, Pascal Petit, Linda France, Kathleen Jamie, Jo Shapcott, Anne Stevenson, Elizabeth Bishop, Jackie Kay, U.A. Fanthorpe, Wendy Cope, C.K. Williams, and Myra Schneider.


Read the poem 'How to Behave with The Ill' →

How to Behave With The Ill

Approach us assertively, try not to
cringe or sidle, it makes us fearful.
Rather walk straight up and smile.
Do not touch us unless invited,
particularly don’t squeeze upper arms,
or try to hold our hands. Keep your head erect.
Don’t bend down, or lower your voice.
Speak evenly. Don’t say
‘How are you?’ in an underlined voice.
Don’t say, I heard that you were very ill.
This makes the poorly paranoid.
Be direct, say ‘How’s your cancer?’
Try not to say how well we look.
compared to when you met in Safeway’s.
Please don’t cry, or get emotional,
and say how dreadful it all is.
Also (and this is hard I know)
try not to ignore the ill, or to scurry
past, muttering about a bus, the bank.
Remember that this day might be your last
and that it is a miracle that any of us
stands up, breathes, behaves at all.