"A Hospital Odyssey" is an outrageously imaginative voyage through illness and healing. Drawing on the most recent biomedical research into stem cells and cancer, the poem is a journey through the body's inner space and the strange habitats created by disease, including the chimeras people see when they're unwell. Maris, whose husband, Hardy, has been diagnosed with cancer, is separated from him. Her mythical journey leads though a surreal landscape, peopled by true and false physicians, god-celebrities, rabid statues, diseases hunting healthy bodies and a microbes holding their annual ball. The Otherworld is located in the hospital's basement. In her desperate search Maris meets and converses with Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS. Immensely readable, "A Hospital Odyssey" is a modern epic: "Dr Who" meets "Paradise Lost". The poem asks: what is health? And what does it mean to care for someone who's ill?
Gwyneth Lewis was Wales's National Poet from 2005 to 2006, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. Her first six books of poetry in Welsh and English were followed by "Chaotic Angels" (2005) from Bloodaxe, which brings together the poems from her English collections, "Parables & Faxes", "Zero Gravity" and "Keeping Mum", and by "A Hospital Odyssey" (2010), with "The Sparrow Tree" due in 2011. She also has published two non-fiction titles, "Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book about Depression" (Flamingo, 2002) and "Two in a Boat: A Marital Voyage" (Fourth Estate, 2005). Her last Welsh collection, "Y Llofrudd Iaith" (Barddas, 2000), won the Welsh Arts Council Book of the Year Prize, and her last English collection, Keeping Mum was shortlisted for the same prize. Both "Zero Gravity" and "Keeping Mum" were Poetry Book Society Recommendations. Gwyneth Lewis composed the words on the front of the new Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, opened in 2004. She lives in Cardiff.
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