Focus: Communications - Three minutes with ... Sam Harding, the Stroke Association

What is The Review of Contemporary Poetry?

It's a poetry anthology that aims to give a voice to those affected by stroke. It includes a selection of work by Stroke News magazine readers alongside famous names from the world of contemporary poetry. All profits from sales of the review go to the charity.

How did it come about?

I received a call from Bluechrome Publishing asking if the association would be interested in receiving profits from the anthology. I knew that some of our service users wrote in to Stroke News with poetry, so we came to an agreement with the editor and Bluechrome that we would hold a competition in our magazine, with the best entry to be included in the book.

How were the entries judged?

We had more than 200 submissions from readers, from which the editor shortlisted the best 20. From these, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion chose one winner, a highly commended second place and a commended third place.Motion described the judging process as "intensely moving" and was so impressed that the top 10 entries were included in the anthology alongside biographies of the top three authors.

What's its value as a communications tool?

It reaches an audience of readers who perhaps would not have been aware of what it is like to be affected by a stroke.

The collaboration also gives the anthology integrity and a value it would not otherwise have had, because it communicates what being affected by a stroke can mean.

For the people we try to support, it gives them their own voice in a national arena. They are writing poetry as a means of communicating, and we hope readers will have a greater understanding of stroke because of it.

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