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Where I'd Watch Plastic Trees Not Grow by Hannah Hodgson

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‘I’m a widower grieving herself. / My stem still living / while all the petals have died; / my body has begun to droop.’

Hannah has taken her regular hospitalisations due to serious illness and made it into astonishing poetry. Her world of the hospital is sometimes like a zoo, sometimes like a gallery and sometimes a crowded town square. The wards contain tigers and crows, butterflies – doctors become poets, the dead turn into an art installation, while outside, the trees are plastic – as unchanging as Hannah’s shielding days that ‘drag like a foot.’ But between the pulled curtains of these words the details of real-life amongst the terminally ill are depicted in full colour. A daughter ‘cries neatly in a corner’ while her mourning father spins ‘his wedding band around his finger.’ Nurses fill ‘carrier bags marked ‘patient’s property’,’ while ‘the industrial plastic’ crinkles as a body is lifted from bed to trolley in its bag. The poet’s eye feels unblinking at times – unable but also unwilling to blink. How could it when it has so much to show? These poems are heavy with import, but they are light with the liveliness of art that is beautifully rendered.

These are extraordinary poems that contain both humour and grief towards a world that continually dehumanizes disabled people in multiple ways. With startling images, Hannah Hodgson balances anger and love, despair and hope – this is a pamphlet that will leave any reader irrevocably changed. – Kim Moore

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