Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine

The Thief came from the experience of visiting my father in hospital after he had had a stroke. Those months before he died seemed to consist of moments of panic and impossible decision making and hours and hours of sitting by his hospital bed feeling helpless. One day when we came home from visiting him, there was indeed a magpie that was trying to steal a blackbird fledgling from a nest in the garden and the outcome seemed like another hopeless inevitability. The final line sums up some of the frustration of the whole experience and I guess not wanting my father to die. 058

Poem-a-Thon for Médecins Sans Frontières 

Come and join us! 50 poets will be in a non stop relay to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub in Walthamstow on 12th November 2pm-10pm. Each poet will read for 8 minutes and we’re hoping to raise £5000. I’ll be reading at 6.10pm. If you feel you could sponsor me, even for a small amount, it’ll be hugely worthwhile and I’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude!       www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Ilse-Pedler

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is the world’s leading emergency medical humanitarian aid organisation. They provide emergency assistance to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics and natural or man-made disasters, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. They work in over 60 countries and go to the places where others cannot or choose not to go.


Here It Is!

No two days as a veterinary surgeon are the same and nothing can prepare you for the constant upheaval in your emotions.  I’ve sat on the floor with a distraught drug addict unable to come to terms with his dog’s terminal illness. I’ve been spat on, sworn at and threatened. I’ve also been trusted, respected and loved. I’ve seen cases of cruelty and neglect but also moments of extreme tenderness and dedication, I’ve known people go without food so they can afford medication for their pets and I’ve known people whose only reason for getting up in the morning is their animals. The consulting room is a privileged place and consulting effectively is an art as well as a science. The ability to draw out the back story and to get to the heart of the matter is a skill that is learnt over time. The farm is also a unique environment and farmers have that particular mix of bluntness and practical capability, there’s a roughness there but a gentleness too. The beasts they look after have an honesty and in the case of cattle and horses a majesty as well, which I still find awe inspiring. Seeing people’s interactions with their animals is a window into their own emotions and whatever secrets people have they can rarely conceal the truth where their pets are concerned.

This is an extract from an article I wrote for Poetry News earlier this year.



The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels

In November 2015, local Mercer and Hughes vet, Ilse Pedler, won an international poetry competition run by the woman’s writing magazine Mslexia. The prize was publication of her poetry pamphlet, The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels. The poems draw on her 25 year career as a vet and her deep knowledge and understanding of animals. They reflect her experiences as a veterinary student at Cambridge University, modern farming methods and the often poignant, sometimes comic events in her surgery. A secondary theme is secrets; those we keep from others, those we keep from ourselves and those that nature keeps from us. The poems have a variety of forms from a traditional sestina to prose poems and the pamphlet ends with a tender sonnet, an elegy to Peter Klein, a local architect and friend.

Seren books, the publishers say   Pedler has a careful, empathetic eye for the characteristics of the animals she comes across, humans and their secrets are also observed with a sharp wryness but also with a characteristic gentleness.  The Dogs that Chase Bicycle Wheels introduces us to a thoughtful, lively and distinctive new talent: the Vet/Poet Ilse Pedler.

The pamphlet is available through Seren