Open the Windows:Poetry & Medicine

Rebecca GossIn October 2013, the National Aspergillosis Centre worked with Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Museum to host Open the Windows: Poetry & Medicine, a performance which combined the poetic voices of a mother/patient and doctor. This event was the first joint reading by 2013 Forward Prize-shortlisted poet Rebecca Goss (right) and Denise Bundred (below), but it also premiered music commissioned by the NAC from Chris Davies and creative voice specialist Beth Allen to celebrate ‘breath’. Please click here to scroll down for a video of this 'remarkable' performance.
 
Open the Windows was programmed by the NAC's writer-in-residence, Caroline Hawkridge. The aim of holding a distinctive poetry event was to raise public awareness and encourage dialogue between patients, carers and staff by using poetry from different viewpoints to highlight issues such as undergoing/performing diagnostic tests, receiving/breaking bad news and coping with illness and bereavement.
 
Click on image to download booklet in PDF format The audience were greeted in the foyer by a NAC information stand which included several microscopes displaying live fungi. They were also provided with an information booklet on aspergillosis which featured poems by Centre Manager Chris Harris, poems by the support group and Caroline's poems alongside school artwork from the NAC's 2012 Project Life competition. To download a copy of the booklet, please click on the cover shown to the right.
 
Denise BundredOpen the Windows was a sell-out and rated as 'Very Good' by 96% of respondents. 14.5% had never been to a live literature event before. An independent reviewer described the event as ‘remarkable‘ and also applauded the live display of fungi. 
 
Comments by the audience included: ‘As a medical student, I was really moved by Rebecca's recital’ –  'Wonderful synergy between the spoken word and the sung word, between emotions and inspiration’ – 'Very well put together, moving and personally meaningful, it will stay with me and affect my actions' – 'Eye-opening and enjoyable' – 'I admired the originality of the theme of the event: how cohesive it was! – 'Personal yet universal. Seminal and stimulating.' – 'The booklet brings together poetry, art and medical information in a very telling way' – ' Putting the two poets together was genius' – ‘I never knew poetry could be like that’.
 

Open the Windows was presented as a poster at the 5th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine, Royal Society of Medicine, May, 2014. ​

 
Please note: for copyright reasons, the video includes extracts only from the readings by Rebecca Goss and Denise Bundred. Both pieces of music celebrating 'breath' feature in full.
 
 
 

Watch and listen to this remarkable event here: 

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Program

Welcome: Dr. Graham Atherton, National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC)

Introduction: Caroline Hawkridge, Writer-in-Residence, NAC

Poetry: Denise Bundred (extracts only)
Music: Chris Davies & Beth Allen (right and below)
Poetry: Rebecca Goss (extracts only)
Music: Chris Davies & Beth Allen

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