Arts tonic in the hospital

Literature is just what the doctor ordered in a new creative collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and the Auckland District Health Board.

Author Amy McDaid is a neo-natal intensive care nurse at Starship who completed the Masters of Creative Writing in 2017.
Amy McDaid is a neo-natal intensive care nurse at Starship who completed the Masters of Creative Writing in 2017.

A creative collaboration between the Faculty of Arts’ School of Humanities and the Auckland District Health Board will get underway in early July.

It’s aimed at bringing a spark of humanity into the hospital, and setting up an environment in which people can gain deeper insight into the healthcare experience through poetry and prose.

The ‘Literature in Situ’ series will start with Master of Creative Writing graduate Amy McDaid reading from her book Fake Baby at the hospital on 15 July at midday in the A+ room on Level 5 of Auckland City Hospital. All are welcome to attend.

The goal of Literature in Situ is to present creative writing related to healthcare and hospitals. It’s hoped the works will provide insight into the human aspects of the mundane and life-changing experiences that occur when people encounter illness and seek treatment. Through reading, writing and reflective discussions, these human aspects will be explored and shared, adding richness and warmth to the way participants think and talk about health.  

There are two components to the Literature in Situ programme, which is being organised by associate professors Linda Tyler and Paula Morris with the ADHB. 

The first will feature graphically appealing framed poems and literary excerpts from New Zealand writers which will be placed in public spaces around Auckland City Hospital in the six weeks leading up to National Poetry Day, Friday 27 August. This will culminate in an in-hospital National Poetry Day event, showcasing the writers featured in the posters alongside other New Zealand poets, who will present readings and discussions.

The goal of Literature in Situ is to present creative writing related to healthcare and hospitals to provide insight into the human aspects of the experiences that occur when people encounter illness and seek treatment. 

The second part of the programme is a quarterly series of reader/writer events where published authors, who write about or from experiences within medicine and healthcare, read from their work, followed by a facilitated conversation with a clinician and an open discussion with the audience. 

The first presenter in that programme is also Amy McDaid, who in 2017 completed the Master of Creative Writing programme taught by Associate Professor Paula Morris. Amy is a neo-natal intensive care nurse at Starship Children’s Hospital who worked part-time on her debut novel Fake Baby for nearly four years before it was published by Penguin in 2020. Darkly humorous, the novel deals with themes of grief and loss.

This creative series is aimed at staff as well as students training for clinical roles, along with interested community members, patients and whānau. The idea is that creative engagement supports the experiences of giving and receiving healthcare. It will also pilot a forum for bringing creativity into the workplace and be a test for future opportunities to connect the humanities and medicine, as well as championing creativity and diversity in our community. – Linda Tyler

Literature in Situ,
15 July, midday-1pm
A+ room, Level 5, Auckland City Hospital
Registrations through Eventbrite here.

Cover of the novel Fake Baby by Amy McDaid
Amy McDaid will read from her novel Fake Baby on 15 July at Auckland City Hospital.

This item first appeared in UniNews June 2021.