If you’re tired of browsing much-thumbed magazines in the Dr’s waiting room and not interested in reading about the trials of being a superstar then why not dip into a clean, fresh, and free poetry card while you’re waiting for that Dr’s appointment? And if the Dr calls your name when you're half way through a poem that's not a problem, just take the card home with you.
Poems in the Waiting Room is a Dunedin based charity which has been supplying rest homes, medical centres, hospices and prisons with a new selection of free poetry cards every season for the past seven years.
When I heard about the UK project I wrote to congratulate the chairman and he replied, offering me a free license to use the name in New Zealand and also funding for the first card! Although PitWR (NZ) had accidental beginnings it has grown very purposefully since the first print run of 500 cards in 2008. We currently distribute 7000 cards every season throughout the South Island and lower half of the North Island.
We cater for all tastes with traditional and modern verse, haiku and poems for children. The poems are sourced nationally and internationally with the exception of the winter edition which is set aside for NZ poets – it also includes the winning poems from our annual competition. Not wanting to be responsible for inciting waiting room arguments or riots we steer clear of poems with political or religious themes!
Our goal is to be able to offer these free poetry cards throughout New Zealand. As we rely totally on our own fundraising and successful funding applications for our two costs, printing and postage, this is a very long term goal!
Receiving positive feedback from readers is all the encouragement we need to continue pursuing funding to ensure the project continues.
Picked up a copy of Summer 2011 Poems in the Waiting Room yesterday at Albany Street Medical Centre. Just wanted to say what a great idea and what a wonderful uplifting selection too - ideal for shifting thoughts away from health worries. And also to let you know these poems were being read, enjoyed, and discussed throughout the waiting room.
I've recently relocated to Dunedin and I love that I'm living in a town where poetry finds its way into our everyday lives. Thanks for sprinkling some fairy dust around the city :)
Each seasonal edition is transcribed into braille and published as booklets which are freely available to sight impaired poetry lovers.
Over the past 3 years I’ve organised four PoARTry fundraising exhibitions for PitWR(NZ). When artists agree to participate in an exhibition they are sent a selection of poems and asked to create an artwork, in their chosen medium, in response to their favourite poem/s. The resulting exhibition also features artists’ talks, poetry readings, and craft workshops. It’s always great fun and, with a 30% commission on all sales, an enormous help to our budget.
The 2015 PitWR (NZ) project is Lilliput Libraries - little free community libraries. With funding from the Creative New Zealand Creative Communities scheme 10 Lilliput Libraries were constructed by Cargill Enterprises (the trading arm of the Otago Disabled Citizens Society). Volunteer artists ranging from professionals, through to secondary school students, and guardians who wanted to make their mark on their Library then painted the libraries before they were filled with books and set up on Guardian’s fences. These books are free, for people to take and keep, or pass on, or return to the original or another Lilliput Library. We encourage people, at some stage, to pop a replacement book in the Library so they are self-stocking with top ups by the Guardians! We're hoping they'll become focal neighbourhood spots - a bit like the old corner dairies.
Neighbours, friends, workmates and local businesses have all donated time, materials or talent. As well as supplying paint for our Lilliput artists, Resene has set up a ‘book drop off’ bin in their Dunedin store - these books are distributed to the Guardians for topping up their libraries. We have a long waiting list of people wanting to become Lilliput Library Guardians so I’m currently looking at options for funding some more.
If you've got more than a passing interest in poetry, why not enter PitWR’s current poetry competition – entries close on February 29. There are three monetary prizes plus every entry will be considered for inclusion in future poetry cards. Further information may be found on the blog waitingroompoems.wordpress.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ruth Arnison