Participants at Swansea University's Creative Writing Symposium

A group of registered clinical health care professionals from across Wales and beyond had the opportunity to share some of their lived experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic by taking part in Swansea University’s Creative Writing Symposium for Nurses.

Joining forces with professional writers, illustrators and academics, participants engaged in a range of creative processes to help them reflect on, explore and record their unique real-life stories.

Guest speakers included Professor Owen Sheers, BAFTA nominated author, poet, playwright and Professor in Creativity at Swansea University alongside award winning spoken word artist, writer and nurse, Molly Case.

Professor Sheers said: “It was insightful listening to participants and learning from their experience as nurses. Using examples of my own work, I guided participants through some of the co-creation processes which then fed into their writing.”

“We saw early on that the COVID pandemic was not only a threat to humans but a threat to all that it means to be human. Writing that is informed by direct experience depth and emotion, is important to both help us all to understand what we have been through beyond statistics and policies and to help us to understand ongoing consequences.”

Swansea academic and workshop organiser, Dr Laura Kalas, is co-director of Swansea’s Medical Humanities Research Centre. She said:

“This event provided an exciting opportunity to give creative voices to the nurses whose roles during the Covid pandemic have been so instrumental. As well as the nurses’ writings, a resident artist also captured the event through live illustration. This was a dynamic way of reflecting on how we might narrativize the pandemic through different voices and experiences, giving us a chance to radically rethink the relationship between science and art.”

The symposium is part of a wider project funded by the Morgan Advanced Studies Institute (MASI) called ‘Resilience, challenge and change: Learning from nurses' lived experience of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales and beyond’. Findings from the creative writing symposium will be used alongside wider academic research and analysis investigating current and historical experiences of nurses during pandemics.

The creative writing produced by the nurses will be showcased in an online exhibition next year.

‘Writing the pandemic: A Creative Writing Symposium for Nurses’ took place at the Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea University on 10-11 May 2022.

Find out more about English Literature and Creative Writing courses and research at Swansea University.

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