Willow.jpgThe Word Gallery

You can now download an anthology of creative writing by service users, staff, families and carers of MPFT inspired by the pandemic (PDF below). Or scroll down to see all the work individually.

There’s humour, honesty, kindness, gratitude, consolation and insight in what people wrote about – not to mention a lot of trees!

You can still enter work for the online Word Gallery, full details below. For more information, please email eleanor.babb@mpft.nhs.uk.


What should I write about?

Your writing might be a response to or a reflection on some aspect of the pandemic or simply about your own experiences during this time… or it could be something completely unrelated (we could all do with a break from it after all!). It could be about your hopes for the future or perhaps about some positive discovery or change you made during this time.

There have been plenty of dark moments, but in among them times when you’ve no choice but to laugh, strange moments of togetherness (the first Thursday clap, remember that?) and moments of counting blessings and rediscovering simple pleasures and old hobbies. We’ve all experienced it in such different ways and no two people will be alike. Creative writing affords us an opportunity to share our experiences and learn from and reconnect with each other… It could be very light-hearted or something more serious, a three-line poem (see the haiku guide below) or a much longer reflective piece or short story. We’d love to hear about how it’s been for you.

There are no rules as such about what kind of writing is eligible. You may submit poetry or prose, short stories or more personal reflections and writings, all are welcome! See below for a couple of ideas if you are stuck.

How do I submit work?

Email it to eleanor.babb@mpft.nhs.uk. Please tell us whether you are happy for us to include your name on the website and how you would like your name to be displayed (e.g. full name/first name/pseudonym). 

What will happen to my work?

A selection of the work will be published on the Word Gallery page of the Arts for Health website. The Word Gallery was launched during MPFT’s Service User and Carer Week in early October 2020 and we are continuing to add work on a rolling basis.

Why not have a go at a haiku? A haiku is a very short Japanese verse form. An English haiku is three lines long, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line and five syllables in the third and final line. Like this:

Lockdown sounds changing… (5)
Birdsong louder than before, (7)
Children relaxing. (5)

Traditionally haikus have nature as their theme, often with a reference to the seasons. They can have a quite a meditative feel to them and some of them may come across as enigmatic. With limited space for any narrative or story, they often focus in on a detail or a moment or a feeling. Another common feature is some sort of contrast between two things (in this example, the birdsong and the children). The following is a translation of a Japanese haiku considered a masterpiece of the form:

An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

There are also more modern humorous versions like this one:

Haikus are easy.
But sometimes they don't make sense.
Refrigerator.

There are lots more examples of haikus to be found online, for example here

So why not give it a try? You could start off by calling to mind a place or a memory or a feeling and try to put it down into just a few words. If you have too many words or syllables, try narrowing the focus by concentrating on just a small aspect of what you have in mind. Good luck!

A picture paints a thousand wordsPainting of a windmill and a boat

Or so the saying goes... so why not turn it around and try to write the words that are painted by a particular picture for you. You could check out our ArtGallery and see if any of the pictures there spark off an idea for a short story or poem. The ArtGallery pictures have all been submitted by MPFT service users, carers and staff since the lockdown and there are lots of interesting images to choose from. Try asking yourself:

  • What's the picture about?
  • What has just happened?
  • What happens next?
  • Where is it set?
  • What feeling does it express?
  • Why was it painted/created?
  • What does it make you think about?
  • Is the image the beginning, the middle or the end of your story?

and see if any of these gets a story going for you. You don't have to write a thousand words of course! We'd love to know if you do use one of the ArtGallery pictures in this way, so do let us know if that is how you came up with your story or poem.

Painting shown is An Homage to Dutch Landscape by Mikey D.


Poems

Journaling after a meditation:    

Soak up today as
It unfolds richly before
You in enchantment


On Creativity/Creation:    

The pure potential
No-thingness creates before
The Isness of all


On the microcosm and macrocosm:

In utter awe at
Everything within look
Up beyond the stars
 

“Nana will you tell me the story of that year?
The one in which the pandemic came and everyone lived in fear?”
“Oh child yes of course I’ll tell you, but something that is true,
My reflections of that time are quite different, here, sit, I’ll tell you”
Yes there was great fear and we all had to stay in and hide,
But that year gave us great gifts, it wasn’t fear all of the time.
The shops brought down their shutters, signs on all of the doors,
The cars all silenced their engines, less footfall on the floors.
The streets lit up with rainbows, for everyone to see,
They clapped on streets and balconies and for once the whole world felt free.
You see what happened in 2020 if you’re looking for silver linings,
The world stood still for quite some time there were no rules or timings.
The children finally had time to play and discover who they were,
They stayed at home with their families, home schooling did cause a stir!
But we relaxed into a new life, one full of time for things,
For baking and painting and dancing and playing instruments with strings.
We learned about each other, no daily life or stress,
Some days it was a struggle to even just get dressed!
But then we relaxed into the pyjama days, life took a slower pace,
We looked at life with different eyes, it took a new found grace.
We had breakfast together for what seemed like the first time in years,
When we hurt, we loved and we dried each others tears.
A new sense of togetherness came, sometimes through virtual means,
But it meant that we all kept in touch even the grumpy teens!
We learned that we could choose our times and decide how best well spent,
No rules or routines or arguing it just didn’t make sense.
A proper work life balance, no working the early hours,
We had time to spend on things that mattered, laughing, dreaming, and planting flowers.
Now it’s safe to say that perhaps not everyone felt the way I do,
But I’m sure there will be others that hold the very same view.
The time we had been given felt like a gift you see
It’s time we’ll never get again, that time, it set us free.

The definition of a team is all working together to achieve one goal,  
An oiled machine, to know our jobs and to know our role.  

We each have knowledge, a skill and strength to bring,  
But just lately it’s seems we all have a different song to sing.  

It can feel a thankless task when only the wrong has been said,  
We have just become so busy, so wrapped up in our head. 

The little things have become so big, an annoyance in our day,  
That we find moaning and griping is the ‘norm’ the only way.  

It can spread like wild fire and consume everything in its path,  
So let’s try to stop the trend, let’s stop this negativity’s wrath.  

We look out for each other’s wellness and peace of mind,  
Let’s take a look through others' eyes, see the good and just be kind.  

Not everything will be easy or really go to plan,  
But we all need the attitude “That I know I will and I know I can”.
 
Our lives have gone online, and communications gone askew, 
Bedrooms have become the office, working from home is the new.
 
So when you enter “the office” and things are not as it would seem,  
It’s because most of our day is talking to people through a computer screen!

Our lives in lockdown
Unlike any other time we’ve known
People panic stricken, alone
Whirring around in uncertainty
Caged up and caged in
We keep treading water
Muddling through rough terrain
Oh, our lives in lockdown
Chatter of how alien this is
But oh my friend, not unfamiliar
When you live fighting your own shadow
Negative emotions rain down
Sometimes like a shower
Sometimes like a storm
But these feelings of lockdown yes,
also the daily internal war called depression
Oh our lives in lockdown
Everyday life living under the weather

I am a tree
I live not in the forest
But overlooking the strange boxes
The grey paths connecting
Unique footsteps beneath my leaves
The pitta patter of ancient wisdom
Wandering souls, left discovering themselves
And their inner happiness
I look onwards 
Curious,
I wonder if they see me
The way I see them, and their fascinating tales of woe
 

THEY SHALL NOT GROW WEARY,
THEY SHALL NOT TOIL IN NEEDLESS VAIN,
THEY ANONYMOUSLY GAVE THEIR ALL.

From 2020

A willow not always weeping,
Orchestrating wonder.
Something changes,
I breathe easily,
But movers slow down, take notice.
I am seen,
I am strong, 
I am proud,
Sometimes rageful.

By Willow

“Don’t weep for me” whispered the Willow Tree
For I’m as strong, as strong can be

My long green branches swish to and fro
With gentle majesty as time moves slow

My roots run deep, give a strong foundation
To stand with permanence and in meditation.

Rain falls like teardrops from my branches
But  I’m not sad just taking my chances.

Of late, I stand here all alone
As the world around me turns to stone.

What if it’s just nature giving us the time
To contemplate and reflect whilst still in our prime.

The noise and bustle are not gone forever
But will return with fair weather

But I’m just a tree who can only stand and wait
While the world decides to re-evaluate.

Tall Willowy trees, in gentle breeze
Roots strengthen their hold on the ground
Enveloped in chlorophyll leaves
Everlasting, ever growing

The first wave hit, frozen by fear I stood,
Haunted by the countless sequestered souls departing.
Fight and flight called to action,
I woke early, dashed, provided,
Terrified by the unseen.
Safe inside, separate from the quiet outside,
Not silent though, birds sang, the sun shone and seeds grew,
A different way, doors opening, participation possible.
Frustrated, feeling inadequate but lucky to be cocooned and safe.

Without hesitation, I whispered, “Oh no we’re in lockdown”.
Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days.
I cradle my hands on my lap,
I cried I wanted someone to hold me,
Then I saw a smile that always makes me laugh.

A willow weeping, 
Pulmonary breaths struggle,
Synergy laid bare.

Time for nurturing...
Learnt homemade recipes loved
Nourishing others

Over to nature
Bearing witness to the world
In humdrum silence

Lockdown sounds changing… 
Birdsong louder than before, 
Children relaxing. 

Wildflowers by Nila.jpg


 

Prose

Hello, bear with me as you and I travel through latest swirl of vast changing world. I am now like many of us, being uncertain of where heading. I have tried hard to understand and how to write in these troubled times something so relevant that is foggy focused to many of us. 

The world, in a matter of days, and with extraordinarily little warning became more fearful; it is fearful because change has hit our nations at such a speed and confusion that no one could possibly have predicted.  We are fearful because we have been faced with death on an extortionate scale. We have saw it coming from a distance and now suddenly becoming a day to day world that is trying to find answers and solutions to a crisis never witnessed before.  Everyone believes they have the answer to slow down or eradicate this global pandemic.  I haven't got all those answers you and I are looking for, and it’s become quite clear there is no rushed through quick fix. 

“I am a stranger in my street, closed doors and from windows stare the fear of the faces we once used to meet and greet.  Words of rules swarming around our head, everyone an expert that once were known as a friend. My head hurts the pressure cooker blows as I fall to the ground, but there is no sound, just muffled masks staring back at me.  Anxiety and then the panic, what do you want of me. Oh please God don’t let me be another number on the news.”

I no longer can go to a supermarket, as just before lockdown I encountered a very frightening experience in a supermarket which led me to have a huge panic attack followed by on the same day being accosted by two men, telling me I should be indoors or locked up. The structures to that survival are breaking and confused. 

Changing times, it feels like to many of us, it is like the ending of time. The world stood still; there are moments that mark your life, moments when you realise, nothing will ever be the same. And time is divided into two parts: Before This and After this.  

“An empty world full of people, invisible to the disbelieving eye, a world unknown struggles to call itself home, spinning round in empty voids, reaches out to hug but arms fall empty only too its selfless side.  Oh my love, my dearest child upon that day would arrive, when all will be well once again. Just hold on be brave, be strong. For just when the Caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a Butterfly...”

Change also challenges us in our emotions, and that is challenging in itself, we are all encountering the same one thing, but we all approach it from different perspective. The mind is a complex yet fascinating part of us.  I suffer with mental health problems and very recently I have found myself relapsing, mentally unable to cope and reverting to old triggers, thoughts and feeling.  Yet feeling guilt for reaching out for help, because you feel a burden on already stretched services such as MIND and Samaritans. And so now I’m retreating inwards more and more but just longing to be held and heard.

Arts for Health Contact Details

Jessica Kent - Arts for Health Lead

Redwoods Centre, Somerby Drive,
Shrewsbury SY3 8DS

Jessica.kent@mpft.nhs.uk 
01743 210048 / 07814 752783
 

Helen Wilson - Project Worker

St. George's Hospital, Corporation Street, Stafford ST16 3AG

Helen.wilson@mpft.nhs.uk 
01785 221328

Eleanor Babb - Project Worker

St, George's Hospital, Corporation Street,
Stafford ST16 3AG

Eleanor.babb@mpft.nhs.uk
01785
221328

Diana Buckle - Administrator

Redwoods Centre, Somerby Drive,
Shrewsbury SY3 8DS

Diana.buckle@mpft.nhs.uk
01743
210038

Get in Contact

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Trust Headquarters, St. George's Hospital, Corporation Street, Stafford ST16 3SR

E-mail: enquiries@mpft.nhs.uk 

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