UW News

April 6, 2011

Hospital meals served with a taste of haiku for Harborview patients

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Harborview Art Program

Read about writer Wendy Call

National Poetry Month April 2011

Wendy Call, 2010 Harborview writer-in-residence

Wendy Call, 2010 Harborview writer-in-residence

Folded 3 X 5 cards will feature haiku and an American Sentence, along with a painting. The poems are by Wendy Call, Harborviews 2010 writer-in-residence. The painting is from “Aboretum Series” by Anne Moon, Harborview float pool nurse.

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry with a three-line structure. The first and third lines have five sound units, and the second line has seven sound units. A sound unit is roughly equivalent to an English syllable.  Haiku is usually about the natural world or everyday experiences. Some of the art collection at Harborviews View Park is augmented by haiku.

Inspired by haiku, Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg created the American Sentence, a single, 17-syllable line.

Bearded robots drink from Uranium coffee cups on Saturn’s ring.
– Allen Ginsberg – May 1990

Each day is a canvas on which to paint memories.
-Ashley Jones -April 2011

An example of  haiku:

Wait for pilot car.
Road construction paraclete,
Billowy dust guide.

Patients can try their own hand at writing haiku and American sentences by following the directions inside their tray card. They have the option of returning the cards, anonymously or with their names, to their nurse or to art program manager Peggy Weiss. Wendy Call will collect the submitted  Harborvew haiku and American Sentences.  Excerpts from some of the submissions might be published or otherwise distributed.

The program is Harborview’s local celebration of National Poetry Month 2011. The theme for National Poetry Month is “Bright objects hypnotize the mind,” from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, “A Word with You.” You can download a free poster from the Academy of American poets.

Call was recently a writer-in-residence at Harborview, where she helped patients put their thoughts and stories to paper.

“During the weeks I spent wandering patient rooms and waiting rooms at Harborview,” Call said, “I sometimes found notes: lists of symptoms, wishes, things to remember or forget written on abandoned brochures, or scraps of paper, on crumpled paper napkins. Those messages formed their own poetry, a sort of haiku. And so Peggy and I decided to try this project, exploring the poetics of illness and recovery.”

This effort to involve patients in poetry is part of the UW Medicine Harborview Medical Center art program, and also receives support from 4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.