About the People's Poem

The People’s Poem is a unique project designed to encourage creative expression of our own individual experiences with our health. We invited members of the public to take part in a collective cultural moment and compose a piece of poetry asking, ‘What if?’ about health.

We have been delighted by the submissions we received – the calibre of entries was extremely high, with people emotively sharing their personal health experiences through the power of poetry and challenging their own mindset by asking ‘What if?’.

Jaspreet Kaur, award-winning spoken word artist and our People’s Poet, wrote a new piece of poetry inspired by the entries. 

We're pleased to share more in our highlights video. 

The People's Poem

There is the sacred art of Kintsugi
Where the broken pots are repaired
The breaks, the cracks are filled with gold
Rather than despaired
Given a new hope, a new life
Restored in palms that cared

Maybe it was their love
Maybe it was the – “never give up”
Maybe it was finding a sense of honour in this damage
How I managed to find peace in fragility
Inside every silent scar

Hiding in hospital beds
Under pillows with rested head
Inside these gold covered pots
Was an abyss filled with “what ifs…”
And in there
I found every lost kiss
Every birthday missed
An old me, reminisced
I found every reason for why I not only need to exist
But to persist

In ashes to ashes, dust to dust
We have to find a sense of trust
Where my name, my skin, my history
Does not hinder my chance of survival
Does not hinder my chances of care
Culturally aware
Whether a treatment, or dose
I’ll hold this lifeboat close
I hold on to this rope
Until I’m ready to be out at sea
And let the waves wash over me

I imagine all the phone calls
The “how are you feeling today?”
Good day or bad day? – or
I’m calling just to say
You’re never alone
Because I was scared that night you didn’t answer your phone

In those what-ifs
I daydream about the perfect day
A day where we can pause the pain
Pause our parting
What if we all go dancing
On a night when the sky is filled with stars
And the moonlight heals the scars
Cures hidden in the creases of our hands
A night to make up for all those lost plans

Where our destinies have not been diminished by a doctor's diagnosis
What if… we offer ourselves a new prognosis
That health and healing becomes our collective responsibility
We look out for our communities
Isn’t that what they say helps us live longer?
If only our sense of community was stronger

So take my hand, as we carry our pots home
And let the what-ifs spill out on streets, ready to roam
Taking centre stage
Ready to be heard, ready to make change

~ Jaspreet Kaur

The People's Poem Performance by Jaspreet Kaur

"When I took on the challenge of writing the People’s Poem, I was committed to doing justice to this collective cultural moment, drawing on inspiration from the poetry submissions from people about their individual health experiences. Thankfully, these poems were nothing but inspiring."

- Jaspreet Kaur, The People's Poet 

The People's Poem Event

The People’s Poem was unveiled and performed by Jaspreet live at an event hosted by Sanofi on National Poetry Day 2023. The event was held at Battersea Arts Centre, the world’s first ‘Relaxed Venue’ and pioneer in making arts accessible for all. Jaspreet was joined on stage by a number of people who performed their entry. 

You can see images from the event and read the poems that were on display below:

Angela Seymour 

MAT-XU-2401123 (v1.0)
April 2024