Menu of Poems, national



  • Various
Supported by
  • HSE
  • Poetry Ireland
  • Saolta Arts
  • Saolta University Health Care Group
  • Cúirt International Festival of Literature

I think poetry should infiltrate every space and institution, should be there to stop us in our tracks at every turn. ‘The Menu of Poems’ is a little, lovely contribution to this much-needed poetry revolution. I chose these poems to share with you because of the attention they pay to how small we are, how vulnerable and brief, how limited we are and yet how capable of stretching our limits. We can reach out to one another and “listen with great care”. We can reach out to ourselves and reconcile “ourselves with ourselves”. We can reach out to the world, though the world might slip from us like a jellyfish. I think poetry is a careful kind of reaching out. We live in a noisy world, and it’s difficult, in a world of noise, to say complex or uncertain things to each other – or even to hear ourselves think.

— Ailbhe Darcy, selector of Menu of Poems 2019

Celebrating Poetry Day Ireland, Menu of Poems has served a helping of poetry on the hospital meal trays of Ireland since its conception in 2009. Each year, ten thousand copies of a short anthology of poetry are distributed throughout Irish hospital wards, waiting rooms and other healthcare contexts for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. A project with Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland, we are currently the producer for Menu of Poems, which benefits from our ongoing partnership with Cúirt International Festival of Literature by inviting internationally acclaimed writers to make the selection. Previous writers include Philip Shcultz, Dennis O’Driscoll, Naomi Shihab Nye, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Michael Coady and Ailbhe Darcy.

Menu of Poems is a joint initiative between Arts for Health Partnership programme, West Cork; Arts in Health at Cork University Hospital; Galway Mayo Roscommon Community Health Office; Saolta Arts; Saolta University Healthcare Group; Kildare County Council Arts and Wellbeing Programme; Naas General Hospital Arts Committee; National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght; South Tipperary General Hospital; South Tipperary Mental Health Services; St. Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny; University Limerick Hospitals Group; Waterford Healing Arts Trust; West Cork Mental Health Services Arts and Health Programme and Wexford General Hospital.