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Chronic illness affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. The language we use, and how we talk and think about our experience, matter. A group of researchers, clinicians and others with an interest in this field have come together with nationally significant poets to explore the experience of ill health through poetry.
This event features nationally renowned poet Ian McMillan (“A force of nature” – The Guardian) and poet Peter Sansom ("The best poetry teacher in the world" – The Guardian) who will read from their own work and poems from the canon of English literature on the subject of health and illness. If you have an interest in poetry and health, this intimate event exploring art and the human condition should engage, entertain, and challenge you.
Funded by the University of York's Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders.
Suitable for schools/families but theme of ill health may not be suitable for younger ages
I was born in 1956 in the village near Barnsley where I still live; I wanted to be a writer all the way through my schooldays, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. All the books I got out of the library were written by people who lived in Surrey, not the Yorkshire Coalfield.
So as a teenager I wrote all the time without ever working out how to make a living from it; at the same time I discovered a love of standing up (or sitting down: I was drummer in Barnsley’s first folk-rock band Oscar The Frog) in public. After Oscar the Frog, me and my mate Martyn Wiley formed Jaws, Barnsley’s first folk/poetry duo.
When I left North Staffordshire Polytechnic in 1978 with a degree in Modern Studies I knew that I wanted to be a writer and performer, but I still wasn’t quite sure how. I worked on a building site and in a tennis-ball factory. I went freelance in 1981 with the aid of a little grant from Yorkshire Arts and I’ve not looked back since.
I worked for years with The Circus of Poets performance poetry group and Versewagon, the World’s first mobile writing workshop. Later, I worked with Martyn Wiley as Yakety Yak, entertaining audiences all over the place.
Now I’m a solo performer and writer: I’ve worked in schools, theatres, arts centres, fields and front rooms. I’ve been poet in residence at Barnsley Football Club, Northern Spirit Trains and Humberside Police. I’ve written comedy for radio and plays for the stage, and I’ve worked extensively for Radios 1,2,3,4 and Five Live as well as for Yorkshire Television and BBC2’s Newsnight Review.
I’m currently presenting The Verb, Radio 3’s Cabaret of The Word, doing gigs all over the place on my own and with cartoonist Tony Husband and musician Luke Goss and writing weekly columns for The Yorkshire Post and The Barnsley Chronicle. It’s a busy life but I love it: it’s a long way from Oscar The Frog, but maybe it isn’t. See you at a show!
Peter Sansom is a poet and tutor. His publications include On the Pennine Way (Littlewood, 1988) and Everything You've Heard is True (Carcanet, 1990), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His poem commissions include for The Guardian, The Observer, Radio Three, The Big Breakfast, a billboard in the centre of Lancaster and The Swedish Club (a Marine Insurers in Gothenburg).
Over the last 25 years, Peter has led writing workshops in hundreds of schools and workplaces, been Writer in Residence for Marks & Spencer and The Prudential and regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation.
He taught the MA Poetry at Huddersfield for 10 years, was Fellow in Creative Writing at Leeds University, and leads monthly Writing Days and the advanced Writing School course at The Poetry Business.
He is a director of The Poetry Business in Huddersfield, and co-editor of The North Magazine and Smith/Doorstop Books.
Follow @poetryillness on Twitter
Wheelchair accessible by lift