It was with great pleasure, and pride in the talent and generosity of our alumni, that Varuna launched Poems in the Waiting Room, Australia at the Dr Eric Dark Memorial Dinner on Saturday 10th March, 2012.
While planning for the new “Doctors Who …” program last year, Varuna was delighted when local resident and radio announcer Pamela Croci approached us in mid-November to see if we might be interested in getting involved with an international program, launched in the UK, called Poems in the Waiting Room.
Pamela introduced Varuna to Ruth Arnison in New Zealand, who runs the program very successfully there, and to Michael Sheridan Stone, Director of PitWR Worldwide. Both proved to be extraordinarily supportive of Varuna launching the program in Australia and rallied to support us as we set ourselves the challenging goal of getting our first poetry card produced in time to distribute to doctors at the Dr Eric Dark Memorial Dinner.
PitWR worked with us to help select appropriate poems and provided us with an establishment grant from The Beatrice Trust UK to finance our first print run, which we produced locally with Bennetts Printing in the Blue Mountains.
These Poetry cards are now available to be distributed for free throughout medical waiting rooms in Australia. To continue the project we now need to seek support from the wider community for future print runs. As a sponsor’s name can be printed on the front cover this is a great opportunity to support the arts and reach a wide cross-section of the community for a minimal expenditure.
Contact Varuna if you’d like some poetry cards for your waiting room and/or if you’d like to sponsor our next print run.
Our first edition features eight of Varuna’s alumni who are also participants on Varuna’s Writer-a-Day blog – two of these, Dr Leah Kaminsky and Dr Michelle Cahill, were also presenters on the panel at the Dr Eric Dark Memorial Dinner. The other poets in our first edition are Ivy Alvarez, Mark O’Flynn, Craig Billingham, Deb Westbury, Mary Ryan and Tim Thorne.
Poems in the Waiting Room (PitWR) is an arts in health charity and is the most extensive arts in health program in the UK. It was described in a House of Lords debate as the most widely read poetry publication in the country. Research conducted on the program has shown that “poetry acts possibly as an adjuvant to medical care; that PitWR appeals widely across a range of social conditions; that some nine in ten poetry cards are taken away by patients and that the availability enhances patients’ satisfaction.”
“The scheme was launched independently in its current poetry card format in autumn 1998.”
(From Poems in the Waiting Room Information Sheet)