Longlisted for the Barbellion Prize
“Hannah Hodgson takes us to the paradoxical heart of poetry itself: to be held inside a pain both intensified and soothed by the sheer brilliant presence of the poet’s mind.” – Caroline Bird
Hannah Hodgon is an award-winning poet and a palliative care patient. In her compelling debut collection 163 Days, she uses a panoply of medical, legal, and personal vocabularies to explore what illness, death and dying does to a person as both patient and witness.
163 Days is the length of Hannah’s longest period of hospitalisation to date. In this long poem, she probes various truths, personal and medical; truths which clash like a tray of dropped instruments in a silent operating theatre.
The speaker is a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. Doctors struggle to diagnose her complex conditions. Through daily, diary-like poems we see the children’s ward through Hannah’s eyes. It is decked out in primary colours. Volunteer clowns visit. At seventeen she is ‘too old’ to be here, ‘too young’ to move to the adult ward.
The mundanity of hospital life is marbled by a changing landscape of mood, hope and loss. Her symptoms are painful. She has numerous tests and procedures to keep her alive long enough to figure out what’s wrong. A gap yawns between the person she is, and the person in her medical notes.
In ‘Aftercare’, Hannah navigates the worlds of both nightclubs and hospice care as she embarks on a new version of her life as a disabled adult. 163 Days is an important collection, in which Hodgson’s true voice takes poetry into difficult places.