Friday, 4 May 2012

The Hospital Theatre: A Spoken Word Poem

This is in the poetry-slam kind of vein. Never heard of a poetry-slam? Watch this AMAZING kid from America.

Sometimes I feel like an imposter
When I don the stethoscope,
Put on the metaphorical white coat,
Go out and say
“Hi. My name’s Sarah. I’m a medical student.”
It feels like I’m just kidding myself
But out there front of house
The receptionists are checking referrals the way you check tickets to a show,
And I wonder
If I’m just the next generation of performer
To go out and convince you, the punter,
That I know what I’m doing.

It’s Shakespearean at times:
All of medicine is a stage
And every doctor, nurse, physio only a player
In this drama
That I’ve had to audition for.
I’ve learnt drug names
Like dance steps
To be waltzed into memory:
Because, after all,
They call it a theatre for a reason.

But are we doctors just playing concerned?
Because we’ve been taught a script,
Been shown how not to trip
Over the awkward questions
And the odd proposition.
How to be exuberant,
To connect with the audience
So they believe that we
Know how they’re feeling
Through the medium of empathy or
We’re to gauge just how much physiology to tell you
 Depending on our private character study
Of you and your life,
Which we have reduced to pixels
On a screens before us.

And all the time I’m just screaming
That I really don’t know what I’m doing,
But internally of course
So as not to cause panic.
Those people –
The patients –
Are human,
And I hold their Faberge egg lives
In my tiny T-Rex hands
And I know that at some point
I will drop one.

And it doesn’t help that you look at me
With such admiration in your eyes.
Why do you think that I am going to be great?!
Why do you trust me
With your secrets and lies
The alternative lives
That your partner doesn’t even know about?
I am just a girl from Leigh.
I am nothing special.
I am only human too.

And there it is
The realisation
That this is meant to be a relationship of equals.
Both humans
Endowed with human error
And at times a lack of grace.
I will make mistakes
But then, so will you.
And it seems like theatre
But really it’s just life
And after all
All the world is a stage.
We are only people,
Mostly patient,
Human and identical
As far as possible.
And so I apologise in advance
For the slips
And trips,
The mistakes
And the times
I don’t quite understand.
And I realise
That you will come
With your stories
And lives,
And I will try
To treat you as humanely
As possible,
And not as a case study
Or a file on the computer screen before me.
(C) Sarah Ahmed


  1. That was amazing! I love the observation that 'They call it a theatre for a reason.' And the image of Faberge eggs in T-Rex hands was so effective. You should be immensely proud of this :)!

  2. I was thinking, as soon as you mentioned slam poetry, that there wouldn't be much point you posting it since these kinds of things can only be appreciated when read aloud. But whilst it would be great to hear this read out (can't see you posting a Youtube version anytime soon :P), I really loved it. The rhythm is obvious, I could 'hear' it as I read it...okay that sounds weird. I felt like it got into a more comfortable flow after the first part (2 and 3 were just awesome). But yes, pretty great overall! Highly condone your use of a T-rex/Faberge egg image, just dropping it in there like it's the most natural simile ever :P


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