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P-40  ‘Memory is the scribe of the soul’ (aristotle): patient wellbeing and the hospice poet
  1. Phil Isherwood
  1. Bolton Hospice, UK


A hospice poet will present his distinctive approach to writing poetry which has been developed over five years, writing poetry based on conversations with, and the creative artwork of, hospice patients. His creative PhD research at the University of Bolton has established specific working methods as a writer, producing over 200 poems, and identified particular qualities in poetry of special value relating to transcendence, wonder and otherness.

Support for the approach will be presented with particular reference to narrative identity and creativity, utilising the potential of poetry to provide a creative work based on a patient’s own life. This will be argued as supportive to personal significance and identity, valuable to patient wellbeing and as memorial art and legacy.

Furthermore the poet, and the poetry produced, supports the hospice principle of ‘being with’. Particular aspects of creativity and mystery will be highlighted as a way to access transcendence – arguing value for such creative representation of a patient’s life at a time when a more simplistic presentation of meaning and understanding may prove inadequate. Examples of poetry will be used relating to personal narratives, to creative work by patients and also work based on patient ‘memory boxes’.

Further key issues will be raised regarding the role of the poet and the case made for this approach to be fully accepted as psycho-social support and integrated within the end-of-life care aims regarding a ‘good death’. The approach is especially appropriate for volunteer and community partnerships to strengthen the creative and different side to hospice care and patient wellbeing.

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