Poetry’s ‘A Night at the Museum’

by Freddie Barker

This February, Poetry Society held an exclusive event that saw our student members taking a deep dive into Worcester’s medical history.

Guided by Museum Curator, Harriet Hathaway, and led by Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2022-23, Rhianna Levi – the student poets embarked on an after-hours exploration of the Old Infirmary Medical Museum.

The Old Infirmary, located on the University’s City Campus, holds over 230 years of medical history – and contains a plethora of awe-inspiring exhibits. From historic medical apparatus – to local records and stories of Victorian patient care – there was something to inspire every poet.

To begin the evening, Harriet led us through the space, discussing Charles Hastings’ formation of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association (PMSA) – now known as the British Medical Association (BMA).

As the night fell outdoors, things began to rise within the museum. Poets were given a passage to learn, interact, and resonate with the space. Many took notes and photos – while others meandered between artefacts.

Rhianna led the group to absorb the emotional and impactful ambiance within the atmosphere – and weave it into our poems – as we wrote in The Boardroom, surrounded by oil portraits of PMSA founders and significant figures.

Our event ended with an open mic: as we re-entered the museum, poets were encouraged to share their original work. Rhianna also shared her work from the evening – and gave each member affirmative feedback and praise for their work.

Rhianna also discussed her debut poetry collection, Mortal Veins, which contains Poetry inspired by her previous visits to the museum. The collection has been described as “Bold, thought-provoking and distinctive” by author Chloe Hanks – and Rhianna’s heartfelt approach to tender, difficult topics within her writing have been met with glowing reviews and acclamation.

Poetry’s Night at the Museum was a roaring success: and working alongside Harriet Hathaway and Rhianna Levi was an exciting and memorable experience for us all!

More information about the Old Infirmary Museum can be found here: https://medicalmuseum.org.uk/the-infirmary

And to learn more about Rhianna Levi + her work as Worcestershire’s Poet Laureate 2022-2023; https://worcestershirelitfestfringe.wordpress.com/worcestershire-poet-laureate/
or her Twitter page: https://twitter.com/rhiannaeliza98

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