Disability, Poetry and Kendal Poetry Festival

Poet Jamie Hale , appearing at the Kendal Poetry Festival


Following my previous blog about pandemic living, I thought it may be quite apt to review a fellow disabled poet’s recent release focussing on life within a pandemic as a person with serious illness.

“…i want to be/ the opposite of a Do Not Resuscitate order/ the opposite of a patient you’d give a quiet death/ o god let me die loudly let my ribs crack/ I will arc with shock please I’d rather die/ as I’ve lived as I’ve lived filled with love and/ I’d rather die fierce as myself, every time/…”

The excerpt is taken from the first poem in Jamie’s debut pamphlet ‘shield’ published this month by Verve Poetry Press. It is a beautiful collection, a love affair with not only life, but disability, self-worth, a shocking (to those who aren’t aware about this current of Do not Resuscitate Orders being rushed through during the pandemic) and honest account of pandemic life. It has never been so clear, the medical opinion on disabled worth and who our system values. This collection of poems resonates on many levels with my lived experiences, and Jamie has captured this in such short and stunning poems – stripped bare and brutal in their honesty.

Jamie Hale will be performing their solo show NOT DYING on Monday the 22nd February 2021, about living life with serious illness, sex, discrimination and everything in between. You can book for Jamie’s event here.

Poet Abi Palmer, appearing at the Kendal Poetry Festival

Also appearing at this year’s festival we have Abi Palmer with her collection ‘Sanatorium’. This explores her time at a rehabilitation facility in Budapest which moves through many bodies of water ‘from bath to thermal pool’ as it says on the back of her book. “One day in the bathtub I find a way to leave my body. I fill it with water, I cannot see my own shoulders. I forget to balance it against the wall, but the volume of water holds it firm. It is hot. I lean back and spread my legs over the inflatable rim. I tilt my head back. Without meaning to, I find myself elevated. I am three feet above the floor before I realise I’m still conscious.”

This collection explores life with chronic illness, its height and depth, the place for alternative remedies as well as conventional medicine, and that it’s important to listen to yourself above anyone else – even medical professionals. The book jumps forward and back through time as you read, taking the reader on a journey like those of the author.

Abi Palmer will be performing at the festival on Tuesday the 23rd February 2021 at 2pm – 3.30pm. Her work will be featured alongside an immersive film experience and will be a treat. You can book to see here perform here. 


Hannah has shoulder length ginger hair, dark purple glasses and lipstick, and is wearing a red dress with an embroidered butterfly on the front.
Hannah Hodgson is a poet and KPF’s blogger in residence. Her website is www.hannahhodgson.com


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