I find these poems powerful and moving. They give a new, valuable insight into the horrors of working at the frontline of the Covid pandemic – the horror, sadness, isolation staff felt.
Images such as a night shift worker as an untethered astronaut linger, as does a medic’s sense of frustration at trying to console a patient through the barrier of a mask.
But what also shines through is the dedication, determination, humour and humanity that staff exhibited even at the height of the pandemic.
I believe this collection will stand the test of time and help give future generations a fresh insight into an extraordinary period in our history.
Steven Morris, Guardian news reporter
Martin Figura’s poems are a powerful evocation of those times of anguish and crisis.
The hospital’s ability to rise to this challenge was something we filmed throughout the Covid crisis, and quite remarkable it was too.
Martin’s words take us back to that time and place, complete with its emotions of pain at the loss, and satisfaction at the many lives saved.
Mark Urban Newsnight
During the COVID pandemic Martin Figura was poet-in-residence at Salisbury hospital
To the staff, patients, and families of Salisbury District Hospital. To the NHS
Martin Figura on himself:
I’m a poet, photographer, winner of the 1975 RAPC Apprentice College Accountancy Prize and was recently described as a pleasant sixty-year-old gentleman (hospital referral letter)
First poem of the pamphlet:
On Being Interviewed by a Poet
How was it for you, this past year, was it:
river swimming in lead diving-boots
or walking in snow, blizzard blind,
was it the Mojave Desert with an
empty map, was it a cumbersome
suitcase and a broken lock,
was it line-dancing in purple crocs, a flock
of sea gulls at a chip shop bin, was it
windowless and continuous, a mouthful
of salt, was it burning car tyres, pliers
and teeth, was it blood dripped into milk,
an alien abduction from a New Forest
glade, sackcloth, shackles, ashes and shale,
was it a skeleton clock, a pickaxe, a mule,
a gilded mirror in flames, was it déjà vu
after déjà vu, was it Nova Scotia in fall,
an abandoned mineshaft in Wales, was it
Easter lilies left to rot, bloodhounds barking
in a parking lot, was it a cold metal bridle?
Tell me in your own words was it difficult,
are you exhausted, what are your hopes,
what do you do to unwind?