Big Picture: Poetry competition

Our winning entry, from Lynne Cameron. Download PDF for image (also by Lynne Cameron): Go back to your room now, Acrylic on paper.

A Wonder World for Enid

Enid, these are for you.
My wish: that you had a wonder world in front of your paled eyes,
Scenes so wonderful that you felt,
simply, joy.
Garden memories of warmth and song.
Of children holding your strong hands.

Enid, these are for you,
In your care home room,
unknowing and scared by your own mind.
I wish I could bring you a wonder world
to dissolve your fears and relax your bony shoulders.

Enid, these are for you.
It's all I can do, from this side.
I hold the world for you and wish,
Enid, for you.

This poem, by Lynne Cameron, wins The Psychologist’s first ever poetry competition. Competition judge David Sutton (a published poet, as well as being the editor’s father!) said: ‘Lynne’s poem stands out immediately as being an effective and affecting primary response to something seen and strongly felt, where the emotion is allowed to shape the poem without running away with it.’

Lynne describes poetry as a ‘life companion’. She is now a practising artist, passionate about colour, language and imagination. Previously Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Open University and University of Leeds, she has published widely on metaphor and empathy.  

Lynne told us: ‘This poem complements a series of abstract expressionist paintings with the same title (http://lynnecameron.com/index/#/enid). My art and poetry come out of and respond to my emotions. The most intense emotions of the last few years were generated by my father's Lewy body dementia, and by my experiences as I watched it take away his sense of place, as we answered increasingly anxious phone calls from him lost in his own living room, and as I sat next to him on visits to the care home we had to move him into.

‘The poem and the series of paintings that I call 'A Wonder World for Enid' emerged when these multiple, complicated emotions were brought into the studio. Enid was a frail old lady who lived across the corridor in the care home.

While it was still too hard, too raw, to make work directly relating to my father's last illness, re-imagining Enid allowed the possibility of poetry and painting through metonymy, appropriation and projection.

‘In my paintings, tones and textures of greys on top of the colour layer work as a kind of ‘inverse sculpting’ by excluding and veiling. The bright shapes underneath and among the grey suggest the rich lives of people with dementia that are gradually obliterated, but remain accessible longer than we think. They reflect the moments that brightened my visits when we managed to connect across fading memories and anxiety.’

Dr Catherine Loveday, Chair of the Psychologist and Digest Editorial Advisory Committee, commented: ‘This piece captures and powerfully expresses a unique perspective on the experience of dementia. It’s food for thought for both practice and scientific understanding and a beautiful illustration of why science and art must sit together.’

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