A Hospital Odyssey

A Hospital Odyssey

When her beloved husband Hardy becomes desperately ill in hospital with cancer, Maris is terrified at the prospect of losing him. Armed only with her fear and her love, she embarks on an extraordinary quest to find a cure and save his life, rushing through and beyond the realms of the hospital, of pain, healing and dying. On her way she acquires magical travelling companions who will help her overcome the dangers she will encounter: a wonder dog, a doctor turned Knight Templar, and escapees from the wards. Together they pass through the surreal spaces of the hospital, encountering historical as well as mythical characters, from Bevan, the health service pioneer, to Odysseus’s wife Penelope transformed into a monstrous spider in the lift shaft.  Maris constantly faces tests and choices in this alien landscape, where appearances invariably deceive, where statues represent diseases and their symptoms, and gorgeously-coloured bacteria and viruses cavort at the Microbe’s Ball.

In this extraordinary, gripping narrative poem where the lines echo both the rhythms of the body and Maris’s desperate progress, Gwyneth Lewis, former National Poet of Wales, daringly combines imagination, myth, and up-to-date scientific research. Echoes of the grail quest, of Orpheus and Eurydice, the voyage of St Brendan, the Odyssey, and elements from Welsh tradition, are all melded and transformed into a moving, accessible poetic journey through life, illness and death. 

Reviews

  • 'This is a performance that more than confirms Gwyneth Lewis's reputation as one of the most exhilaratingly gifted poets of her generation.'

    The Guardian

  • 'The texture of the poetry is clean and unfussy ... The word order is natural, and her lyricism is unforced.'

    The Independent

Gwyneth Lewis

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Publication details:

A Hospital Odyssey
Bloodaxe Books (2010)

160pp

Translation rights:

Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken
Rights and Permissions Editor
Bloodaxe Books
Highgreen, Tarset
Northumberland 
NE48 1RP, UK

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