Poems for…The Wall

Poems For…One World

Poems For…Self at Sea

Poems For…Bridges to Learning Disability

Poems For…All Ages

Poems For…The Waiting Room

Poems for…Rising Ten

Introduction

Poems for…the wall  offers a large selection of small poem-posters for public display on wall or digital screen, free of charge. You can download all of the poems from this website.

The project aims to reach out to people in public places with words that can touch. We believe that poetry can speak to the truth in people. It can discover and help recover that truth. It can protect a common ground. It can open people’s lives to each other.

The project is based in the UK, but poets from all over the world are represented in its collections, especially in the largest one, called “Poems for…one world.” Many of the poets there are famous in their own countries and beyond. Just below, is a case in point, uploaded in March 2022, a few weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both the Ukrainian author and his translators gave their permission for this abbreviated version of the poem to be reproduced. (The English translation of the poem in full can be read here).

Here just below is a poem from another part of the world in which violence is being deployed against a people. Myitkyina Jail is all too well known in Myanmar (Burma). The poem’s author, known as Zarganar, is famous in his country as a comedian, but also as a fearless activist and has been jailed more than once for speaking out in a manner displeasing to the military junta who run the country. There is a further irony in the poem below. Vicky Bowman, who translated it into English, was UK ambassador in Myanmar for several years. Later, she continued to live in Myanmar with her husband, the artist Htein Lin. In September 2022, the junta jailed them both. A few months later, she was deported.

But the poems available for viewing on this site, and for downloading from it, are not all about conflict and oppression. For example, here below is one from Sri Lanka.

Poems for…the wall was supported initially by the UK Poetry Society and then by the UK Arts Council. Funding thereafter has come from a range of sources, with the Arts Council frequently supplying partnership funding. You can see the names of the funding organisations along the base of this home page.

All the poems published on this site have been carefully chosen for quality and subject matter. Copyright clearance has been granted in all relevant cases, on condition that source books and publishers are identified in each case (they are) and no one makes commercial use of the poems. They are formatted as posters and look good on wall or digital screen. They are displayed in healthcare waiting rooms, libraries, schools, universities and similar settings, in the UK and far beyond.

They can be displayed in a whole range of ways, of course, and can be viewed at any size – from the screen of a smart phone to a plasma display screen in a healthcare waiting room ; or printed on (weatherproof) paperboard and displayed in a public park – or the wall of a cathedral ! For an instance of the latter possibility, Clifton Cathedral, a Roman Catholic place of worship in Bristol, was host to an exhibition of the poems in the Spring of 2019. Some striking pictures of the exhibition as a whole and also of individual poems displayed there, are available here or (if you are on Facebook) here. For more details of the exhibition itself, go to the News section elsewhere on this site.

The following six collections are available from the site, once you have registered (see a few paragraphs down for how to do so) :

  • Poems for…One World  numbers over 100 poems. Almost all of them are bilingual, each non-English original having an English translation alongside. Fifty different languages are represented in the collection so far and it features the work of internationally famous poets. The number of languages represented in this collection will continue to increase. See above for a link to an exhibition of some of them.
  • Poems for…All Ages  consists of fifty poems, many of them old favourites, and includes twelve poems specially for very young children.
  • Poems for…Waiting  also consists of fifty poems. This  was the project’s first collection and each of its poems was specially commissioned by the poet David Hart. Two previous UK Poet Laureates are included among the contributors. The subject in every case is waiting. The collection is intended for display in healthcare waiting rooms.
  • Poems for…self at sea is a collection of thirty poems on the subject of mental disturbance/ill-health.
  • Poems for…bridges to learning disability consists of twenty poems. This and Poems for…self at sea were both completed in 2015.
  • Poems for…Rising Ten is the project’s latest collection and consists of 25 poems selected with ten year children in mind. Anyone who knows a local primary school which might be interested, please let them know. Completed in the Autumn of 2022, the collectilon combines text with art-work in each case – as close accompaniment rather than as literal illustration. The images were supplied by Rachel Stevens, who contributed her work free to this project. You can find some smart phone pictures of a small exhibition of the new collection here : https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=7949865511750928&set=pcb.7948868918517254

To download the poems, you need to register with us. This is a simple process and also free of charge (and there are no lurkey hooks attached !). Go to “Login/Register” on the right of the menu bar along the top of this home page and follow the directions. After registering, go to “Poem Collections” on the same menu bar and you will find all our collections named and available to you. After that, you can view, download and print the poems as often as you like. Simply log on each time.

We have changed the project’s title more than once, over the years. In 1997, when we began, our title was Poems for the Waiting Room. Later, it became Poems for…This grew into Poems for…the wall in 2017, to coincide with the project’s 20th birthday and our move to this new website.

The menu bar along the top of this page will lead you to more detailed information – how the project developed, where the poems have gone, etc (see “About Us”).

Poems for…the wall  is one of several ideas and initiatives promoted by the charity Hyphen-21.

The founder and Director of both Hyphen-21 and  Poems for…the wall  is Rogan Wolf, who did the writing for this site. For Rogan Wolf’s blog, go to https://roganwolf.com


What People Have Said

TN, Governor, HM Prison, Grendon and Springhill :

“Are you still supplying Poems for…the wall ? We would be interested in a pack, as previous poems have been much appreciated by prisoners, staff and visitors to the prison.”

Tomaž Šalamun, poet, Slovenia, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I’m very honoured and delighted you have chosen my poem. Very grateful for your marvellous idea.”

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the UK National Health Service, 2010-2014 :

Your initiative has made a valuable contribution to making NHS waiting rooms a more welcoming and sensitive environment for patients and the series of poems celebrating diversity has been particularly well received.

Lakshmi Holström, translator of two Tamil poems in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“The thrill is in seeing Tamil as part of a spectrum of languages, each making its own wonderful contribution …[Poems for…the wall] is an impressive and beautiful project, which should continue to grow.”

Deputy Chief Exec, Yarrow Housing:

“Since our clients have learning disabilities, for some the written word is not accessible. However, some clients have been very taken with the poems, selecting their favourites and saying how good they are.”

Susan Brown, Chair, “Arts for Health”, Milton Keynes :

“We now have poems in more than 85% of GP surgeries in Milton Keynes….So, thank you for sending us all those [poem-posters]. I hope you agree, it has been a success story and we are delighted with the results.”

UA Fanthorpe, poet, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…waiting’ collection:  

“I hope that the project continues to go from strength to strength…and to encourage people to read poetry and to feel better at the same time is indeed a worthwhile task – specially perhaps in times like these.”

Mourid Barghouti, Palestinian poet, Cairo, contributed work to ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I am delighted to be part of your creative and beautiful project.”

Maureen Woolf, Counsellor, North Warwickshire NHS Trust:

“I have used some of the sample of poems you have already sent me for some group work with older people who have depression, anxiety, memory loss or other difficulties. The overall response has been very favourable.”

MV Prescott, Consultant in A & E Medicine, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital NHS Trust:

“I am absolutely delighted with the pack and will be commencing a project in the A & E Department at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to display these on a rotating basis.”

Assistant Head of School, Kent:

“Somehow this lovely set of poems came into my hands; I am delighted with them and am displaying them outside my classroom for maximum impact. I also intend to use them in lessons and get younger students to illustrate as appropriate.”

Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL, Poet Laureate 1999-2009, launched the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection and later our first website. Also contributed a poem :

I greatly admire what you’re doing…and am delighted that the NHS has supported you so well…[This] is an inspired scheme…I’ve been delighted to be part of it….”

Gareth Evans, teaching in a school in Shanghai:

”…it seems to be an important thing, at least to me, in an international setting, to know that the poem-posters on my classroom wall are also on walls around the world.”

The Royal College of Nursing, from their Bulletin, June 15th , 2011 :

“The RCN is backing this project which supplies poems free of charge for use in hospitals and health centres up and down the country.”

Fiona Sampson, poet and editor, helped select ten bilingual poems celebrating the EU Enlargement of 2004:

Your idea’s a wonderful one, crystallizing many of the most interesting initiatives in contemporary literature/ promotion practice. But, more than this, it’s also a deeply human, very profound return to the meaning of poetry. I’m honoured to have been part of it.”

Tanya Plutzik, widow of Hyam Plutzik, who contributed work to the ‘Poems for…all ages collection:

This is a wonderful idea. It will surely be widely read and will bring comfort and support to many. Thank you for including my husband’s poem ; he would have been delighted to be part of the collection.”

Psychology Dept, Scunthorpe:

“One thing that has been extremely interesting is…our clients have begun to post their own poems on the wall. Some are poems that mean something to them and some are written by the clients themselves.”

BB, NHS cancer patient, London, 2013 :

“I just want to tell you that in 1997 I read and copied one of your poems, “The Stream of  Life” [by Tagore] in the waiting room in Hammersmith Gaeni dept. I had just finished chemo for ovarian cancer. I still find this poem inspiring and think displaying poems is a great idea, especially in health settings. I plan to take them with me on retreat. Thanks.”

Andrea Lee, Physiotherapy Receptionist, Warminster Community Hospital, Wiltshire:

“I have received the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection and I am totally delighted with them…Some of the scripts are beautiful in their own right, even without the translations. One of the most striking aspects is that no matter what language and ethnic background, our hopes, feelings and dreams are the same. Thank you once again.”

Hana Amichai,  widow of Yehuda Amichai, Hebrew poet whose work appears in ‘Poems for…one world’  :

“It is a beautiful and very important project, I am glad that Amichai’s poem is included.”

MIND worker in Camden, London:

“I love reading the poems which are displayed in the reception area at work. I like the variety and I like taking a moment to be still and reflective whilst reading the poems. My current favourite has been photocopied so I can read it from my desk ! It’s a really worthwhile venture.”

Sue Eardley, Mayday University Hospital, Croydon :

“The poems are… being changed around regularly, and patients often comment on them in passing….Thank you again for the initiative, and please keep us informed of any new schemes, or if there is a way we can encourage other organisations to benefit from this great idea.”

Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, the UK Foreign Office, 2002-2006 :

“Diversity is an excellent theme, and especially relevant to the challenges we all currently face to build a cohesive society. We would like a set of the poems to use at appropriate FCO events…”

Annette Duncan, Programme Area Leader, ESOL 16-18 Courses, Lewisham College:

“You kindly sent me a set of the bilingual poems last year…The poems proved very useful classroom materials and we went on to study other poems. The result is a book of poems, written by the students themselves, in 2 languages – their mother tongue and English. They wrote some truly amazing poems and really enjoyed the process as well as the finished product…”

Eliot Weinberger, US, translator of Octavio Paz, whose work appears in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I’m sure that Octavio would have been very moved to know that his poem was appearing in these kinds of public spaces…good luck with this excellent project.”

Antjie Krog,  South African poet and translator, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“They arrived!!!! the posters. and what a treasure, my head is bristling with ideas…thank you so so so much.”

William Radice, writer and academic, translator of Rabindranath Tagore, whose work is reproduced in ‘Poems for …one world’ :

“Wonderful to see this and I do congratulate you on a really excellent project.  It has huge potential.”

Juris Kronbergs, Latvian poet, editor and translator, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I am happy and proud to take part in your project ! It’s a wonderful way of making poetry useful in society, outside the groups of afficionados, libraries and universities !”

The Right Hon Tessa Jowell, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001-2007:

“I think this is a wonderful project, giving people something meaningful and personal to consider, in what can be an anxious place.”

Dr S. E-L, Clinical Psychologist, NHS Traumatic Stress Counselling Service, London :

 “…About half our patients come from other countries, generally as refugees fleeing torture and persecution…Coming into contact with poetry in their own language whilst waiting, is a really positive way of helping non-English speakers feel a sense of welcome and inclusion. Many thanks.”

Lyubo Nikolov, Bulgarian poet, contributed poem to the ‘Poems for…one world ‘ collection:

Best of luck in your noble task.”

Selima Hill, poet, contributed work to two of the project’s collections.:

“…Congratulations to you too ! ( I Like the idea of making waiting rooms “less lonely”) PS. Another place where people wait is stations…”

JP, Hospice Visitor :

“Dear Mr Wolf, I have recently seen a “Poems for…the wall”  presentation folder within a palliative care setting which provided a great source of comfort for many visitors. May I take this opportunity to thank you and all the contributors. Are these poems available for other health and social care settings?”

Menna Elfyn, poet, contributed work to ‘Poems for…waiting collection:

“It is good to know that the poems are appreciated widely…and that in these difficult times poetry still connects people together.”

Jayne Greathead, poet, contributed work to ‘Poems for…waiting’ collection:

“It’s a lovely feeling to know my poem has been used in this way.”

Catherine Maloney, Lewisham College:

“Thank you, the poems are wonderful ! We will put them up for staff and students to enjoy and think about…I think your collection will inspire staff and students alike.”

School Librarian, King Fahad Academy:

“Thank you so much – we love them!…I am planning to laminate all the poems, and have a Poem of the Week in a prominent place in both the boy’s and girl’s schools.”

Chikwendụ Anyanwụ, Igbo poet and Catholic priest, contributed work to the “Poems for…one world” collection:

“Your idea is a very noble one.”

Susan Hillyard, Buenos Aires, Argentina, teacher trainer :

Thank you for your poems and for putting them up so generously on the site. I am training 20 teachers to teach English through Drama in Special Education all over the city of Buenos Aires. We are working in very poor conditions without resources and making all our own materials. I am passing your site on to my teachers and am sure they will find some interesting materials…

Dr. Charles Cantaloupo, Penn State University, USA, translator of Reesom Haile, Tigrinya poet, whose work appears in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection :

“As the translator, I authorize you, please, to go ahead.  I hope this is enough since your project is great and should not be held up a second more than necessary.”

Caroline Carver, poet, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…waiting” collection:

“It is good news that the NHS are using the poems so well, and to know they are reaching the right audiences.”

Michael Rosen, UK Children’s Poet Laureate 2007-2009 – his poem celebrating the NHS is included in the “Poems for…one world” collection:

“I think that this is a stimulating, exciting and important project… Many, many thanks … I am excited and delighted that my poem is appearing in several languages [here]. It shows that we can talk to each other just as we try to care for each other… I think the project needs all the help it can find.”

David Hart, Poet, commissioned and edited 50 poems for the ‘Poems for…Waiting’ collection, contributed one of his own:

“The pack of poems has come, Rogan, and it’s an excellent piece of work again ; there really has been nothing like these packs before. We have the chance here to open people’s lives to each other.”


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