Poetry Prescriptions and Jane Austen remembered – Poetry News Roundup 20th July

Today we look at poetry as an alternative to medicine; can it really work? And look at the ways in which the world remembered Jane Austen on the bicentenary of her death.

Poetry on Prescription

Arts on Prescription, a scheme which is available in the UK via GP referral is nothing new, it has been around for quite a few years and has very good success rates, and has once again hit the headlines. A recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts, Health and Wellbeing has called for an increase in social prescribing. The report suggest that this will help patients who need to recover from physical and mental health problems; conditions like depression, strokes and chronic pain. The aim of the program is to boost health and wellbeing and APPG are urging GP’s to remember that this service exists and to refer patients where possible for art classes and poetry workshops.

The efficacy of these programs isn’t in dispute; the most recent figures from a survey of patients who took part make interesting reading. In the period 2014/15 76% of patients reported an increase in wellbeing, 73% a decrease in depression and 71% a decrease in anxiety. Of course, the fact that a greater use of this program, at a time when the NHS is struggling, could save a significant amount of NHS spending could be, in part, a driving force behind the sudden push for GPs to use the service. If the scheme can improve patients mental and physical health then this could significantly reduce both GP consultation rates and hospital admissions.

With this push to increase the number of referrals to the program, poetry is becoming even more accessible to a wider audience and that can’t be a bad thing. The fact that it has been proven to help people who are struggling with a number of health issues is as they say the “icing on the cake”.

200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s Death

To mark the anniversary of the death of Jane Austen a number of event took place at locations all over the globe. It is a testing tribute that 200 years after her death, the many works of Austen are still so popular and her characters as vibrant as they day she penned them.

Whilst the official release of the new UK £10 note won’t take place until September, it was unveiled to mark the occasion and will portray a portrait of Austen in place of Charles Darwin who has graced the £10 note since 2000.

In Basingstoke, England, which is near to Austen’s childhood home a life-size bronze statue was unveiled. Costing £100,000 the statue was designed by local artist Adam Roud, and has been given pride of place in the towns market place – somewhere Austen is thought to have used as inspiration for many of the scenes in her novels.

Groups of ardent fans in many countries gathered together, many in period costume, to read exerts of works by Miss Austen in commemoration of a novelist who has truly stood the test of time.

Do you have a favourite work by Jane Austen, perhaps a favourite character?

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