Nelson Marlborough Health News and Notices

Poems reflect key points in patients and nurses lives


Changing a wound dressing for a man with a disfiguring skin cancer on his face doesn’t sound like a likely source of inspiration for a poem. However, when Jacqueline Brown was a hospice nurse this situation caused her to juggle a range of thoughts and emotions which she processed by writing a poem.


Smile and chat’ is one of two poems written by nurses in the Nelson Marlborough region to be included in Listening with my heart: the poetry of Aotearoa New Zealand nurses.  The collection of around 30 poems by nurses will be launched on 12 May, International Nurses’ Day.


Jacqui’s poem was triggered by the emotions she felt while completing a difficult professional task. “I had to remain compassionate and mindful of everything that was going on for this person while I was also dealing with something that looked and smelled quite horrifying.”


She says nurses are encouraged to do journaling and over the years she has written ‘stream-of-consciousness’ stuff about all kinds of situations.  


She was excited and honoured to have her poem accepted for inclusion in the book: “It is kind of validating the voice of nurses and people don’t always get to hear their voices.”


Di MacDonald, who works for Te Piki Oranga, also had a poem included in the book. 

Hands’ is about working with a Kaumatua who felt conflicted about what doctors told him to do and what he felt he wanted to do.  Di sat and held his hand and listened to his concerns in what was quite a poignant moment.


The poetry book has been coordinated by Lorraine Ritchie and will be launched on International Nurses day via the NZNO website.