John West and Saxby Pridmore
John West is a Melbourne nurse and prolific poet. Such a writer may give us helpful insights into an area of health care we might otherwise be tempted to ignore (at our peril). Studying the poems of other health care workers may help us maintain good relations with them.
3. A Chinese Man in a Bed
Approaching him, holding his pills
I think how alike all old men are
taking up as little space as possible
missing their wives and children, their grandchildren
reading their newspapers over and over again
their false teeth always drooping as they snooze
off and on; throughout the afternoon
waiting for that visitor, that meal, that cup of tea
giving a little start when the nurse
taps them on the arm and hands them
another cup of pills.
In his book First AA Meeting
I can see them at the door, smoking
drinking coffee from styrene cups.
I want to be anywhere but here,
home writing down this poem,
Walking back along this street,
admiring the bodies of women
not at this meeting
not at the mercy of truth.
West has a number of poems about nursing care, especially on the longer-term geriatric and psychiatric wards. His verse is direct and uses simple words and phrases to communicate profound observation.
May JohnsonConsider:Saxby Pridmore
Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Tasmania, Pridmore is an unusual poet in so far as he has published over 200 poems in the literary press but never released a book. The following poem is remarkable for its subject matter and its intensity of honest feeling:
Caught on the HopInfluenceConsider:References and Further Reading
West, John (2002) All I ever wanted was a window Pardalote
Pridmore, Saxby: numerous works in numerous journals which can be searched on the AustLit database