I shall divide this section “What people have said” into two parts. Further down, beneath “Quotes from Individuals,” I shall record what the press and others have written about the project at different times. But in the first part here, I shall record what individuals have said in response to the poems, usually in letters or email messages.

Over the years, we have had hugely enthusiastic comments on and responses to Poems for…the wall, the vast majority unsolicited. You can see a rotation of some of the snappier comments along the bottom of the home page and other pages on this site , but here I have brought most of the comments together, including some of the longer ones. They make good reading.

The list of individual quotes starts with the words of people in prominent roles and positions. Then come comments from some of the many poets and translators involved. The list ends with the views and responses of people who have experienced the poems at first hand and at ground level, including teachers, healthcare practitioners and some patients and visitors.


Quotes from Individuals


The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell, Minister of State, Department 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.”


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

The ‘Poems for…[the wall]’ 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.


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

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


Sir Michael Jay, KCMG, Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, rtd :

“Diversity is an excellent theme, and particularly relevant to the challenges we all currently face in building a cohesive society..We would also like to order one set of your poster poems which we will use at appropriate FCO events..”


Sir Peter Ricketts, KCMG, Permanent Under Secretary, Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office, rtd :

“I remember well the success of the Poems for Europe project—and you might like to know that the same poems still ornament the walls of our staff restaurant here in King Charles Street….I wish you luck with your valuable and inspiring work.”


Susan Elizabeth, Director, Camelot Foundation, ex-Director of Grants, King’s Fund (the King’s Fund awarded funding to Poems for…the Wall :

“I would have loved to come to the meeting, as you are quite right that I am a great enthusiast for the project and have a personal love of poetry. I was visiting an elderly cousin in hospital in Greenwich a few weeks ago and saw various of your poems on display around the corridors and lifts, which made me unreasonably excited and proud ! Unfortunately, I am not in London on that day so won’t be able to take part….Amazing to see [the poems] in other languages and to know that you are developing a world-wide audience for the project. You deserve it!”


Sue Eardley, then Chair, Mayday University Hospital, Croydon :

“Just a note 14 months on from our launch with Andrew Motion of the “Poems for the Waiting Room” project here at Mayday Hospital. The poems are still up, and being changed around regularly, and patients often comment on them in passing. In addition, shortly after the launch event, we laminated several of the poems together with a “please self-clear this table” notice on the reverse and distributed them about the tables in the Burger King concession in our front entrance. To our surprise, most of them are still there, one year on, and clearly have been enjoyed by very many people. 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.


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

“We now have poems in more than 85% of GP surgeries in Milton Keynes. I managed to get funding to employ an artist to visit GP surgeries and encourage them to display the poems and also to do some interactive sessions….[She] has also been into mental health day care centres and worked with patients and persuaded them to write poems for us with her assistance. Some patients have also been doing illustrations to accompany their poems…..So, thank you for sending us all those poems, I hope you agree, it has been a success story and we are delighted with the results.”


David Hart, poet and ex-priest, commissioned 50 poems for this project, all on the theme of waiting, 1999-2000 :

“The new pack has come, Rogan, & 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.”


Fiona Sampson, poet and editor, helped select 10 bilingual poems in celebration of EU Enlargement, 2004 :

“I’d like to thank you for involving me in this absorbing project… 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 essential role and meaning of poetry. I’m honoured to have been part of it.”


Andrew Motion UK Poet Laureate 1999-2009, contributed poem to first “Poems for…” collection, launched first bilingual collection in 2005, and launched the “Poems for…” website in 2008 :

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


Michael Rosen, UK Children’s Poet Laureate 2007-2009, author of  “These are the Hands,” a commissioned poem celebrating the NHS, translated here into 4 different languages : (“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 might appear in several languages. 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.”


Mourid Barghouti, Cairo, Palestinian poet, author of  “Prison,” (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

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


Hana Amichai,  Widow of Yehuda Amichai, Hebrew poet, author of  : “They call me,” (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

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


Chikwendụ Anyanwụ, Igbo poet and Catholic priest, author of “I Dance Ala-Igbo.” (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“Your idea is a very noble one.”


Carla Badillo Coronado, Equadorian poet, author of “Cuvivi,” (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“this beautiful project of poetry in public spaces …”


Lyubo Nikolov, Bulgarian poet living in the USA, author of : “Stalagtites,” (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“Best of luck in your noble task.”


Juris Kronbergs, Latvian poet, editor and translator, author of “Wolf One-Eye Hears his Own Breathing,” (“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 !”


Dr. Charles Cantaloupo, Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature and African Studies at Penn State University, USA, translator of “Our Path” by Reesom Haile, Tigrinya poet (“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.”


Jüri Talvet, Estonia, translator of  “Though your Country be Dark for a Long Time” by Juhan Liiv (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“Thank you … and a lot of success in this noble project ! It will be great to have our Juhan Liiv … traveling to schools and libraries of the world …”


Dr Aaron Crippen, Beijing, China, translator of “Maybe I am Blind”  by Gu Cheng (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“Your project is turning out wonderfully !… [It] restores the public voice of poetry and brings it back into our common lives.”


Professor Roger Pulvers, Tokyo, Japan, translator of two Japanese poems (by Yosano ) and one Russian poem (by Mandelstam) (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

“What a marvellous service you are providing!”


Lakshmi Holström translator of two Tamil poems (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

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


Antjie Krog  South African poet, translator of “Ladybird” by Ingrid Jonker and “I feel the string has broken and gone away from me” by Diä!kwain  (“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 “Too Long I’ve Wandered” by Rabindranath Tagore (“Poems for…One World” collection) :

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


Stephen Watts, poet, translator and editor, helped select over 100 bilingual poems for the  “One World” collection, and contributed two of his own poems to it :

“ ‘Translation is a vital art/pumping life blood through the heart’ : I don’t know of any website devoted to poetry that so consistently provides us with the blood of language so vital for our well-being.”


Jayne Greathead, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting

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


Selima Hill, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting

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


Mike Jenkins UK poet, contributed to Poems for…Waiting  :

“It’s a great idea and I really enjoyed doing a poem for it. In fact I wrote 4 altogether ! Also it’s good to see quite a few Welsh writers involved.”


Menna Elfyn, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting  :

“It is good to know that the poems are appreciated widely… [and] that poetry still connects people together.”


Caroline Carver, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting  :

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


UA Fanthorpe, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting  :

“I hope that the project continues to go from strength to strength.  To encourage people to read poetry and to feel better at the same time is indeed a worthwhile task.”


Charles Johnson, UK poet, contributed poem to Poems for…Waiting  :

“It’s good to know the project is having so many positive uses and consequences.”


Tanya Plutzik, widow of  Hyam Plutzik, UK poet , author of “And in the 51st Year…”  (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.”


GE, Shangai, China, teaching English :

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


Programme Leader, London,  Further Education College :

“The poems proved very useful classroom materials with my Level 1 ESOL students (aged between 16 and 18) 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…. I would love to have another set, as some of my colleagues have been inspired to do some creative writing with their classes next year….” 


LL, Suffolk, UK, Primary School Team Leader :

“Hello!  I came across your website and was inspired by the range of work and poets you had available for people to obtain!  I am writing to see if we could please ask for your 145 pack of poems … I think the website is great and it has helped me a great deal.  Thank you for your time – and hopefully resources !”


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”


School Librarian, King Fahad Academy, London :

“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.”


SH, 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…


SM, Drug Link :

27.01.05 “…We provide support and advice to drug users and their families. This involves needle exchange, counselling, access to funding for rehab and being the first point of referral into NHS treatment. Our clients could benefit from the Poems in the Waiting project, are we eligible? are there any packs left? 16.02.05. “The poems arrived a few days ago, and we’ve just had a chance to look through them, They’re wonderful. We’ve all been leafing through and enjoying them today. Once we’ve settled on a way of displaying them I will let you know. 11.03.05 We have had the poems in a binder for a while. Clients have been enjoying them. In fact I’ve just had a request that we change them over, as they’d been read so many times. This service user is now helping us choose the next selection. The poems have meant we have thought more about how our waiting room is, the message it sends and how valued people feel in it. Sometimes we concentrate so much on the quality of the service from one perspective that we lose sight of subtle ways in which we can value those who walk through the door…”


DW, Acute Day Therapy Service, Hartingdon Wing, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Calow, Chesterfield, Derby :“We have displayed the poems on 2x A4 boards in the main area where patients sit/socialise on the unit. These are changed monthly. I have also put 2 small notebooks up for any comments and/or suggestions and patients have suggested poems, brought poems in for display, many of which they have written themselves. In fact, one of the main outcomes from displaying the poems you forwarded to us has been that patients have often asked to have their own work displayed also…The poems have gone down well with staff (!)”


LD, Mental Health Promotion Officer, MIND in Camden :

“There has been a very positive response to the presence of these rich and varied poems located just over the water dispenser in our lobby area ! We’ve also put some on display down the stairway, so you are met by poems as you enter the building…We are very grateful to be one of the organisations receiving the poems free of charge….”


Dr C, GP, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear :

“Every so often I get a little note from someone saying ‘how nice to see poetry’ and in fact, as a result, three or four patients have brought in their own poems and we have put those up too…We try to unmedicalise the waiting room. We have the medical posters and leaflets in a corridor outside instead.”


MW, Counsellor, Psychological Services for Older People, Warwickshire :

“I have used some of the sample of peoms 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.”


DG, (GP, Sheffield) :

“Thank you so much for the two collections. They are simply wonderful. I plan to try several of your suggestions, and perhaps others too. I wonder if any of my patients might be inspired to add their own poems. I shall try to feedback some responses to you in due course….”


JJ, Practice manager, West Gorton Medical Centre in Manchester :

“One of the GPs had heard about the scheme and we felt it would make a change from the magazines and all the medical material and the tons of leaflets we have about various services. I read through the poems myself and I think they are brilliant – some of them were very amusing. We have a multiethnic population here and it’s excellent that there is something for the patients to read in their language.”


Dr NG, GP, Glasgow :

“I must congratulate you on running such an innovative idea within the healthcare setting. I am a locum GP working in Glasgow. I have been born and brought up in India and work in a multicultural and multi-ethnic city like Glasgow. I cannot see a better place than Glasgow where your work will be truly appreciated. Also I feel General Practice is the closest we can get to patients hearts and I am confident these poems will strike a chord not only among patients but staff alike. …I am proposing to give the practice [the full set] as a starting token and hopefully bring some fullness to the waiting room.” [A year later] : They are being routinely displayed in our waiting area and we have received some very good feedback about them. I thank you once again for making such a useful contribution to this aspect of healthcare.”


BF, Umbrella, Mental Health Crisis Night Shelter, Islington :

“The clients are extremely enthusiastic about the poems, and have already selected several for the walls. They have already planned a Poetry Evening at the CNC for next Sunday, which will include some of the users reading their own poetry, as well as poetry readings from the packs…I’ve been very pleased with the response, which has been even better than I anticipated. The poems have brought up a lot of positive emotions, laughter and discussion. I’ve also been very impressed that many people who are sometimes nxious or quiet in the communal area are confident when they read the poems out to the group…”


The Ultrasound staff, Maternity Scan Dept, PAMU, Royal Bolton Hospital :

“We work so hard we’re dizzy,

‘Cos our waiting room’s so busy,

Our patients wait for hours

And they only look at flowers

So please please send your rhymes

To help them pass the time.”


MU, Seaton Hospital, Valley View, Seaton, Devon :

“The poems are often read aloud to our clients in our Day Care Departments who often have Parkinsons or are also in various stages of dementia. It triggers lively discussion on poetry learned by them and this often develops into an interactive poetry circle.”


JS :

“I thought you might like to know that some of your splendid collection are gracing the walls of the Victoria Hospital in Castries in St. Lucia in the West Indies. My husband is working out there, and is so pleased to be able to put a bit of pleasure on the walls. I thought you might like to know how well travelled they have become! I will let you know the response.”


CS, Soho Rapid Access Unit (for drug users) :

“I wanted to give you some feedback on ‘poems for the waiting room’. The service users have been reading through the folder and a couple have asked for copies to take away with them – Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mushrooms’ is the most requested. One particular client wrote a poem and put it in the folder following the death of his partner – I’m delighted that he felt able to share his emotions with the team and his peers. Your scheme inspired him, I think.”


AL (Mrs), Physiotherapy Receptionist, Warminster CommunityHospital :

“I have received the new Poems for… collection and I am totally delighted with them. They have attracted a lot of interest among the staff, all picking out ‘favourites’. 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.”


Dr. S El-L, Senior Clinical Psychologist, The Traumatic Stress Service, Clare House, St.George’s Hospital, Tooting :

“You might remember that some time ago you sent us the initial collection of poems for our waiting room…. We have continued to display the poems in the waiting room, in a table-top frame, and we try to change the poem each week. The feedback from our clients has been very positive, and on a number of occasions the content has triggered a conversation about an issue that has had therapeutic value in the context of our work.

I noticed recently that you have now published a collection of bilingual poems. About half of our patients come from other countries, generally as refugees fleeing torture and persecution. We also undertake most of our work with this group through interpreters, and probably work across 15 different languages on a regular basis. The collection seems particularly relevant to our patients, and indeed may be a really positive way of helping non-English speakers who attend to feel a sense of welcome and inclusion, through coming into contact with poetry in their language whilst waiting. As such I wondered whether you might be able to send us a copy of the collection…. Many thanks.”


LI, UK Embassy, Skopje, Macedonia :

“We managed to photocopy all the poems on A3 poster paper and they turned out great. We pasted them on little wooden houses in the park where the Europe day was organised. The Ambassador was pleased with the result. Unfortunately we cannot use them again, as we had English weather on Sunday and they got wet. I plan to make more new copies and put them in the waiting /public areas in the Embassy. I put the “Lift” poem in our lift and the reactions of the staff were very interesting! It is quite a new thing for most people here.”


JP. Hospice Visitor :

“Dear Mr Wolf, I have recently seen a Poems for… 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?”


J.U. Birmingham :

“Dear Mr Wolf, I first came across Poems for the Waiting Room when my husband was in St Mary’s Hospice Birmingham over 2 years ago and it has taken me till now to be ready to get in touch. Reading the poems they had on display was certainly all part of the supportive, caring atmosphere of the Hospice. Through this personal experience I should like to be kept in touch with your work.”


AK, ex-psychiatric patient, St Charles Hospital, N Kensington, London, (now returned to Switzerland). Some of the poems were displayed on the wall of the ward :

“Thank you so much for sending me a pack of “Poems for…” poem-posters. I really enjoy reading the poems. Your effort to bring different languages together helps to gain insight in different cultures. And with surprise we discover how similar we are. We feel as human beings. Your project helps us to become aware of “one world.” 


BB, cancer patient, 2013 :

“I just want to write to say that in 1996 I read and copied one of your poems, The “Stream of Life” [by Tagore], in the waiting room in Hammersmith Gynae. dept. I had recently finished chemo for ovarian cancer. I have continued to find this poem inspiring and think the idea of displaying poems, especially in health settings, is a great idea. I have only now registered in your site and plan to use them in retreat settings. Thanks.”


Poems for…Self at Sea :

I am going to finish the first part of this section with some much more recent feed-back. It comes mostly from school teachers at a comprehensive school near Bristol and follows some work I did with them for Mental Health Awareness week in May 2018. With money raised by the Bristol Poetry Institute, and supplied by Bristol University, I was able put together a significant number of poems from the project’s newish “Poems for…self at sea” collection, mounted as an exhibition. The poems were displayed in various ways and to various sizes : both on digital display screens as a slideshow of rotating excerpts and as formal exhibitions of poems printed on card or enlarged onto foamex board – at sizes A4, A3, A2 and A1. The main exhibition was combined with art work produced by the school’s pupils – an imaginative and effective idea. But poems on this subject of mental health were displayed in one way or another all over the school, from main atrium wall to toilet door – for both staff and pupils to reflect on. Here is the feed-back :

Teacher One

“Just wanted to say how great I thought the exhibition of poetry about mental health was. The students engaged really well with them and some interesting discussions came out them. I think they were challenged to look at things in a slightly different way. Thanks for arranging it!”

Teacher Two 

“I just wanted to say how fantastic I thought the poetry display was for the mental health awareness week. It was a hugely worthwhile experience for students to read and reflect on a part of our lives which rarely gets talked about and which deserves so much more thought and time. My year 9 group enjoyed discussing the poems and making the connections to mental health….I hope we can do it again.”

Teacher Three

“Thanks for all your hard work that went into preparing and delivering an excellent experience for my (and our) KS3 students.

Each class thoroughly engaged with the topic largely as a result of the fantastic resources that you sourced from Rogan. Rogan’s poetry display, combined with the focus of the lessons and activities that you put together, provided a rare and valuable opportunity to expose the students to such important and current issues.

What was so fantastic about this was that it enabled questions and conversations around this topic to take place. I was therefore able to dispel myths, allay concerns and tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. Again, this is a rare and valuable opportunity for that to happen amongst peers and within the safe community of a school.

If I can provide any support aiding you with this next year please do let me know.”

Teacher Four

“Many of my Y7 have spoken to me about how much they enjoyed the poetry and mental health activities. It has prompted conversations about mental health that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. The poetry was beautifully displayed and of a high calibre. I think it’s so important for the students to explore mental health. It has definitely lead to a greater understanding of mental health for the students, but also helped me get to know how some of the students’ families have been affected by mental health issues too.

Thank you so much to you and Rogan for organising this.”

Teacher Five

“I just wanted to say that the poetry sessions and display that you organised for Mental Health awareness week were fantastic. The sessions where students engaged with the poetry really provoked some great discussions and, I felt, really helped the students to open up about mental health issues. The week also made it a lot easier for them to talk about their own mental health and to understand that there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to mental health.

I too found it very positive to see poetry around the site which encouraged conversations between staff as well as with students. Please can we do this again next year ?”

 Teacher Six (plus comments from two of her pupils)

“This was such a worthy and relevant project for our young people to engage with.

I have asked a few of my year 8 English class to email me how they found it and have copied and pasted two responses below. “

‘I liked how the poems were from different perspectives. One poem I read was from someone with schizophrenia and another was by a nurse. It helps you understand everyone who is affected.’

‘One of the poems about an Elephant and piano stayed with me as it was short and simple and helped me understand how confusing it must be when you brain is unwell.’

From a Pupil :

“The poems were a great success and I cannot thank you enough for your cooperation and great generosity in the lead up to our mental health week. 

I hope you liked the set-up of the poems [the writer hung the poems herself] and they pleased you as much as I hoped they would. 

There was a mostly positive response from the poems, I saw many people reading them while waiting to go into lessons or just in passing which was lovely.

I mentioned in my assembly to go and check them out and many people had said they’d already had a little look at some of them.

The teachers in particular really appreciated them and I think it was beneficial for them to have that moment of mindfulness and peace amongst the chaos of a school day. 

The only somewhat negative response was that the poems were said to be rather dismal and sad. However, I don’t think these students understood the purpose of them and once it was explained they could see the meaning behind them with more clarity- they just needed to give them a real chance. 

I would love it if we could work with you again and create more projects for the school as there are many things I would like to address and poetry is a great creative outlet to do so. 

Thank you so much, and any more questions let me know!”


Articles and Features on Poems for…the Wall


National Press


Just before the millenium, and while Poems for…the wall (then called Poems for the Waiting Room) was still being piloted, (mostly in London waiting rooms), it received some nation-wide publicity. I actually don’t remember how that came about, or how the journalist concerned first heard of the project. There was no press release, or “newsworthy” event which might have attracted a journalist’s attention. But in the background, a “movement” exploring and advocating for the connections between arts and health was coming to a head. There was also discussion in the air on how the NHS could make its entrances and access points more welcoming to its patients. And somehow, Eileen Fursland, a free-lance journalist with a healthcare interest, got wind of the project and asked to come and talk to me. I remember that I had just broken my ankle, so couldn’t run away ! Eileen had credibility with the then editor of the Guardian’s Wednesday Society pages and her article was published as a centre-spread in the Guardian’s Society section, with a photograph – I think – of the poems displayed in a surgery. Here is a transcription of the text of Eileen’s article.

The Guardian piece and the two hundred or so letters I received soon afterwards  from enthusiastic healthcare professionals around the country, was the making of this project. If Arts Council funding had been a strong possibility before, it was an inevitability now. (Note “letters,” by the way. None of us used the internet then, let alone mobile or smart phones. This project has learned to surf the internet from pre-ripple stage to the present tidal wave).

Of the UK press, The Guardian has continued to be the newspaper most interested in the project. For instance, when we put together a collection of ten bilingual poems, in celebration of the EU Enlargement of 2004, the project even made it into The Guardian’s news section, in a short article by John Ezard. Poetry doesn’t often make the news. However, Ezard’s first paragraph does get a few facts wrong. For instance, those mysterious “international dignitaries” he talks about were actually the general London public invited into the Foreign Office for its open day. Hundreds came, and maybe thousands, and it was a good day.

The project has also been briefly mentioned in The Times and The Independent.




There has been considerable interest in the project over the years in local press and professional journals. Some of the reportage from these sources just fills copy and does not say very much, or say it very well. However, others among the pieces have been excellent – clear seeing, generous-spirited and worth reading and obtaining.

Here is an example of the latter, an early piece as far as this project is concerned. It was written in response to our first collection, “Poems for…Waiting.” The piece was written by Dave Reeves for the magazine “Raw Edge” a funded arts magazine for the West Midlands.

When its first bilingual collection was launched in 2005, the project was featured in an NHS-wide staff journal. The writer had been present at the launch and provided a good description of it. Here is what she wrote.

Eileen Fursland continued to be a friend of the project and kept up with its development. Usually she wrote for professional magazines.  Here she is in 2001, writing for GP magazine. And in GP MedEconomics, here she is again in 2006. Both short articles are sound, careful and informative, as useful for me to read as (I hope) for the magazines’ readers, most of them, of course, GP’s.


The Internet – websites, bulletins and browsing school-teachers


The internet, of course, introduced entirely new ways of attracting publicity, and to a degree reduced the significance and reach of the old. It took a while to catch up with the new conditions and to move away from familiar mind-sets and preconceptions..

In 2005, we launched the project’s first significant bilingual collection. It consisted of forty five bilingual poems. They included the ten EU Enlargement ones produced the previous year.

Soon afterwards the Foreign Office gave me permission to use their staff bulletin to announce this larger number of languages now available. A number of “posts” (embassies) around the world expressed interest and I delivered the poem-packs by hand to the appropriate building in Whitehall, aeach carefully wrapped up in its large padded envelope. Away they went along the conveyor belts, to be put in the famous diplomatic mail bags. Poems for a Diplomat’s Waiting Room.

But that EU staff bulletin was now digital and the mail-bag scene I have just described was already becoming a bit of an anachronism. And humankind’s momentous, fundamental and global shift into digital frames of reference is reflected in the following (for me) enjoyable little anecdote.

As a result of the FCO staff bulletin,  the poem packs went off to posts in Abuja, Nigeria ; Victoria, the Seychelles, Africa ; New Delhi, India ; Skopje,        Macedonia ; Athens, Greece ; Paris, France ; Warsaw, Poland ; Barcelona, Spain ; Cambridge, Massechusetts, USA ; Havana, Cuba ; San Jose, Costa Rica ; San Domingo, Domican Republic ; Islamabad, Pakistan ; St Helena, South Atlantic ;  Corfu, Greece ; Mumbai, India ; Yaounde, Camaroon.

But one very helpful response to the bulletin offer came, not from across the world, but from down the road. An FCO employee based in London had a son who attended a school in Kent. He suggested I contact his child’s school with news of the poems. They might be interested, he thought. I did and they were and the upshot was that news of the project was passed on to individuals whose brief was to reach out to all of Kent’s schools to promote the needs of increasing numbers of children for whom English was not their mother-tongue.

So here the project was suddenly facing a new direction, towards education now, as well as healthcare. Still dealing in hard copy, I  was asked to deliver a car full of boxes of bilingual poems to an office opposite Rochester Castle. The boxes would be distributed around a wide area, one box per school.

It was very soon after that, that we entered the digital age. Or were swept up into it.  Numerous teacher websites and digital bulletins were appearing. It was not quite personal media yet, but close to it. Enthusiastic comments about the project in these bulletins and newsletters online had greater impact, and a prospectively larger number of readers, than newspaper articles, however respected the newspaper, whatever its circulation. Very soon, demand for the poems from teachers, was not just country-wide but world-wide, far outstripping all other demand for the project’s material. And now the teachers, searching for materials, heard about the project not from reading one-off articles, but from websites and online bulletins.  And by 2008, all the project’s poems were available online as well, reformatted on desk top publishing software. So henceforward, interested teachers, or anyone else, need only register on the Poems for…the wall website once in order to view and download the project’s poems any number of times.

So in this new age, achieving publicity in a newspaper was altogether less meaningful or significant than it used to be. However, knowing where best to go to raise a profile on the internet, and how to keep the profile visible there and in sharp focus, among the whirr and haze of internet traffic and timelines etc, requires new skills. And, when someone registers on the Poems for…the wall site in order to download poems from it, I no longer know how they found out, or where they read about it.

For a while, I had a good idea. Here are a few of the teaching organisations I was put in touch with, all of whom now ran websites and bulletins and newsletters, perused by interested school teachers :

CILT (Community Languages Team
NALDIC (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) acting on behalf (I gather) of EAL, (English as an Additional Language)
NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English)
The National Centre for Language and Literacy, based in the University of Reading.

And here are the names of some individuals I would initially associate with our shift of emphasis, or “target client group,” or extent of range, or source of publicity, which took place over the period I’m describing : Amy Thompson, then Adviser for Minority Ethnic Achievement in Medway ; Dr Raymonde Sneddon, then associated with the University of East London and conducting research into the teaching of English as a second language  ; Peta Ullman, now Chair at NALDIC ; Craig Brown, a schoolteacher, then Director of Specialism at Chatham Grammar School for Boys.

But now there are countless sites and linkings in cyber-space, and presently I have no means of knowing how the project comes to people’s attention. I do know that the vast majority are still school teachers, but don’t know which teaching site or bulletin they have been browsing, that might have directed him or her to Poems for…the wall. Until a few years ago, that didn’t seem to matter : this link appears and belongs properly elsewhere on the site (“Where the Poems have Gone”), but I have added it here too to illustrate how many people were registering for several years, how many were school teachers, and how many poems have gone to countries outside the UK. Their email details have all been deleted, of course. The record runs to many pages and takes us to 2013.

Five years later, as I write this, there are significantly less people registering on our site than there were in 2013. Just as, after a while, I did not know why so many people wanted to download the poems, or how they had found out about them, now I do not know why the numbers are now smaller, or why or where the project has lost its profile or appeal. Do people have (even) less time than before, less time for the creative and innovative ? Possibly. Was it a matter earlier just of meeting targets, and those targets have now changed ? Possibly. Has Poems for…the wall lost its prominence on the bulletins and newsletters ? Probably.

Do I want to become a kind of poetry promotion rep, knocking on doors, rehearsing sales jingles ?  Not really. Nor do I have any reason to believe that the project’s material is any less relevant now than it was, or has dated in any way. In fact, if anything, the poems on this site have more to say now, in this age of Twitter and the Minotaur, than they ever have done before. Shapes keep changing and the waves keep running, wilder and wilder. There is a resource of unquestionable value here. It is a matter of continuing in a state of readiness for the right openings, bearing gifts and maintaining them in good order.

I shall end this section with a few more recent examples of publicity the project has received, all of them digital.


The Royal College of Nursing, 2011.


In June 2011, the project was featured both in the staff bulletin and on the website of the Royal College of Nursing. Some of the poems were shown as examples and the RCN announced that it was giving its official backing to Poems for…the wall.  Over the next few days, 49 healthcare agencies registered on the site and downloaded poems from there. The break-down was as follows : hospitals : 30 ; community healthcare settings : 29.

The communitiy healthcare settings included a school of nursing, two care homes for elderly people, two hospices, a children’s centre, a health advisory organisation and a public library.

So here, we were reminded that this project is still eloquent and of appeal in a healthcare setting, the setting where it began. And also that “Poems for…the wall” only needs people to hear or be reminded of it, for demand and interest to be renewed.


The magazine Resurgence, 2017.


Resurgence” (and Ecologist) is  very good magazine based in Devon, associated with a peace activist called Satish Kumar, along with other significant and well-known thinkers and campaigners. The magazine is produced to a high standard both in hard copy and digitally. It has an international reach and an extensive readership.

It did a nice feature on Poems for…the wall in August 2017, concentrating on the story of the project’s beginnings. Click here for the online version.


The website Margutte, 2018.


Margutte is an international arts website whose designers and editors are based in northern Italy. In March 2018, it produced a very good feature on Poems for the Wall.

The piece was initially written in English, mostly by me in various sections of this site. But then Margutte’s editor, Silvia Pio, edited the text  of the English with great skill and good judgement, making it an article.

She then translated it into her own Italian and uploaded the article in both languages. Click here for the English version.






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