Wendy French has four full collections of poetry published and won the inaugural Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine prize for the NHS section in 2010 and was awarded second prize in 2011. She facilitates creative writing in healthcare settings. With Jane Kirwan she wrote the book ‘Born in the NHS’. They are both passionate that the NHS should survive.
She was Poet-in-Residence at the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre in 2015. The book ‘Thinks Itself a Hawk’ arose from that residency.
She has changed direction temporarily with her writing and is exploring her ancestry. This book is due out later this year.
For Ewan on the Isle of Skye
The picture in the newspaper takes me to hills
where you’re helping your parents with lambing
but you’d rather be with your new wife in the heat
and busyness of tuk-tuks, the frenzied way of Bangkok,
finishing your PhD, deciding on a future far from here.
Your parents too elderly to fly over mountains and oceans -
you travelled to them, the long, cold nights you had left.
And over the road from our house Clare sews gowns
for the most at risk in the front-line. Protective clothing
from Turkey held up on route. One particle is capable
of destroying lives. Meanwhile in the road children are
happy on bikes, one family at a time, out to play.
And your video has clicked in - the sea in the distance,
twin lambs just born, licked clean by their mother
and you are content to be as one, there, for now.
I have recently retired form 50+ years of Medical Practice, which I have enjoyed and found it a privilege to have an interesting and varied career. I started writing poetry about 8 years ago, at an unusual moment of boredom ! I keep returning to rhymed verse, which has its limitations and is rather out of vogue.
I wrote this poem recently, and it may reflect my feeling of slight craziness and disorientation that has been creeping up on me recently !
Together Robert and Wendy run the poetry evenings at Bell House, Dulwich. See Bell House website for events listings and read poems from regulars at Bell House Poets.
Reincarnate me as a porcupine !
So all my prickles show through
In another life, I am inclined
To search for things that are new
I’ll be down to earth and not afraid
To go past a Pride of lions
I’ll grubble along without being paid
Hoping to get over the horizon
I’ll be self-sufficient and a selfish git
I’ll take no truck from the missus
Others may call me a pile of shit
But I’ll beat them all at quizzes
I’ll be a hopeless father and lonely as a toad
Eating herbs will be a boring diet
No danger of conversation overload
The forest seems awfully quiet
So, why did I choose to be a porcupine ?
With those prickles and antisocial behaviour
In this alter ego, I will reside
Looking for a different flavour
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