PRISMA Emergency Care Guide

Emergency Care can be a disorienting experience. Things may happen very quickly, or you may find yourself waiting and unsure. In an attempt to provide information and reassurance for those who find themselves in Emergency Care, Prisma Health has released a helpful trifold guide. On the back, there is a poem by Ed Madden, the poet laureate of Columbia, South Carolina.

Launched at Prisma Health’s Richland Hospital in Columbia on July 17, the guides are now being distributed in Emergency Care departments in Prisma Health hospitals in Columbia and surrounding areas.

The poem is the first project of a Prisma Health poetry team, an initiative first imagined by Alexandra Toney with assistance from Dawn Hill, an organization development consultant for Prisma Health. Toney was a student in Madden’s fall 2018 Creative Writing and Community class at the University of South Carolina. For that class, she led a group project placing poems of hope in hospital waiting rooms. Impressed with that work, Hill invited her to help with the guide and with an ongoing poetry inititative for the hospital system. Toney invited Madden to write a poem for the guide.

To write the poem, Madden said that he thought about his own experiences with family in hospitals. “You feel very isolated,” he said of emergency care. He said that he wanted to write a short reflection, “a short little prayer-like poem about being in that space and that time.” Instead of isolation, he explained, he was “thinking about everyone in that room as part of one community.” It is “a space within which all these very different people are gathered, but really all for one common goal, which is to heal someone.”

The untitled poem reads:

for the lights, the charts
for hands and hearts

for those who heal
for those who are healed

for the time it takes

for those who listen
and those who watch

for those who care
for those we care for

for all those here

“The overall goal,” Toney added, “is to offer comfort to whoever needs it.”

The Emergency Care guide is the first project approved by the system’s new Patient and Family Advisory Council, which works to ensure that patient and family perspectives are included.

See this video for insight into both Toney’s healthcare poetry project and Madden’s poem.

Interstate Prayer

Created as part of the annual ArtLinc chalk art festival in the Lincoln Street Tunnel with my husband Bert Easter. Full text below photo.

Interstate Prayer

Every day the same, here along
the road, the cups and bottles people toss
away, the things we shed, evidence
of our careless lives. The wind does
what it can, the vines that hide our trash
with green–still there. May we turn to see
what we have done. May we better care
for what we’re given, here beside the rivers.

River Poems

City Poet Laureate Puts Poems on Coffee
“River Poems” project brings poetry to the people during the month of April

COLUMBIA SC April 8, 2016 – The City of Columbia Poet Laureate Ed Madden is pleased to announce a new project in conjunction with National Poetry Month. Poems from eight Columbia-based poets about the rivers have been stamped on coffee sleeves to be distributed at area coffee shops, Drip (locations on Main and in Five Points) and Wired Goat (locations in The Vista and Chapin).

The Columbia-based poets that have provided poems for the project include Jennifer Bartell, Betsy Breen, Jonathan Butler, Bugsy Calhoun, Monifa Lemons Jackson, Len Lawson and Ray McManus as well as Ed Madden.

“As a project for the poet laureate, last year and this year both, we put poems on the buses. We had already decided the theme this year would be the river, because it is the theme for Indie Grits, but I think the flood added additional urgency to the theme,” says Madden. Along with the bus project, the second project this year was to put the poems on coffee sleeves. “We’ve been trying to think of ways to promote poetry in unexpected places, so coffee sleeves felt like a really obvious place to put poetry,” says Madden. “You can drink your morning cup and read a poem about where you live.”

April is National Poetry Month and over the past 20 years has become “the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.”

The owner of Drip, Sean McCrossin explains why they participated, saying “I feel that one of the roles of a coffee shop is to offer a platform from which people can express themselves. That is why I was very excited when Lee from one Columbia asked us to be part of this project! Everyone in Columbia was effected by the flood (or knows someone that was) and to read what some of our great South Carolina poets had to write about it and have a good cup of coffee hopefully reminds us that art can express things that we sometimes are unable to express ourselves.”

from "I Told the Storm" by Bugsy Calhoun
from “I Told the Storm” by Bugsy Calhoun

Wired Goat owner, Jessamine Stone agreed to participate for a similar reason, saying “We got involved in the project to connect with our community and to raise awareness about the fantastic literary talent we have right here in South Carolina.”

The poets have come together to stamp the poems on over 10,000 coffee sleeves and the project will run through the full month at four different coffee shop locations.

Columbia’s Poet Laureate

Ed Madden, Photo credit - Forrest ClontsIn January 2015, the City of Columbia, SC appointed it’s first poet laureate, Dr. Ed Madden. Charged with “encouraging appreciation and creating opportunities for dissemination of poetry in Columbia, promoting the appreciating and knowledge of poetry among the youth, and to act as a spokesperson for the growing number of poets and writers in Columbia.”

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