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163 Days

Written by Hannah Hodgson

Hannah Hodgson is a seriously ill poet who 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. In the long poem ‘163 Days’ (her longest period of hospitalisation to date) she probes her truth, the law’s truth, and the traumatic truth, something only the body can hold. These truths clash as loudly as a dropped tray of instruments in a silent operating theatre.

The speaker is a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. The ward is decked out in primary colours. Volunteer clowns visit sick children. Each patient gets four Easter Eggs. Only one child is able to eat, while the others can only stare on. Hannah begins to forget the taste of food. Doctors struggle to diagnose her overlapping chronic health conditions. She suffers painful symptoms, and numerous tests and procedures to keep her alive long enough to figure out what is wrong.

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