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  • Writer's pictureRachel Sambrooks

National Poetry Day : Group poems

For National Poetry Day I thought I'd share poems about Carers. One I made with a group of Carers a few years ago and another is from my own collection.

This poem has no author, the author is a group who share the common denominator of being a carer in one form or another. I was a facilitator of the process, but a carer myself.

When we talk about poets and poetry we often think in terms of an elite process that has no link to us. By using group poems in community groups who are often socially isolated, I found that it was in fact a co-operative collaborative process.

I've been doing the #redskysessions with Apples and Snakes, and Bodhan Piasecki reminded me of this in our session on collaboration last night. Some of my most exciting poetry processes have been creating these group poems.

The teacher and playwright Noel Grieg inspired this with his group poem workshop I was privileged enough to attend whilst he was alive. His book lives on and I'd urge poetry and creative writing teachers of all kinds to get it and adapt the exercises within. They are great prompts for groups and create a wonderfully easy atmosphere in which participants can access their poetry.

In my collection 'Harpy' I share the anger of a carer, which is maybe not something you'd think of with the passive position we are put in. When someone is passive, you might ask 'where is the power and why don't they have it?' At the moment there are huge barriers for parent/carers and carers to access anything like an equity of lifestyle and I'd encourage anyone to consider how much that person is carrying around with them on a daily basis.

And what do you do? Parent Carer, I say and the look is blank, the attention waivers Doesn’t that just mean you are a Mum? Aren’t we all carers?

It means I am a lawyer an advocate I am a secretary and admin expert I am not able to put her in other care because she is bullied and misunderstood the grandparents won’t babysit or have her overnight I have to be patient when others would shout

It means I am an expert on every little thing she says and doesn’t say I am an expert in communications I was fobbed off by the NHS, by the teachers, by everyone wanting to save money I had to fight people ask me if she is autistic because they’ve only heard of that.

she isn’t I am seen as a failure, I lost the race to produce the perfect child

It means my relationship broke up and he screwed up her plan

I am the only one left I brought her up bereft

I had no work to go back to I have to explain myself, and her and how

She looks fine they say

She is fine I reply, and walk away

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