This poem was read by a patient at St Christopher’s Hospice for the Visualising Affect exhibition, Lewisham Arthouse, July 2013. You can download a pdf file of the poem.

You can read about and view images from the exhibition on the Visualising Affect website. My essay on our collaborative installation is included in the catalogue.

Here is a short film of Les Back talking about the IVSA conference and the exhibition.

The interviews that inspired the poem are in my chapter 'Narrative Methods in Research' in the edited collection  'Narrative and Stories in Healthcare' (2009)


















Blind Date by Yasmin Gunaratnam


Sixty-five and so alive
                        with cancer.
Grasped in the passionate arms of a metastatic spread
that outdoes the erotic devotion of my most ardent
and agile of lovers.
Sometimes just the merest suggestion of a
Takes my breath away.
Makes my back arch.
Leaves me wondering if it is all a dream.
Sometimes a desperate, urgent embrace.
Off the Richter scale of the tactile
demanding immediate recognition. Eternal fidelity.

The thrill I am told, lies in the chase.
I am tired of the games.
Catch me.

Furtive encounters beneath the skin.
Right underneath the doctor’s nose.
I call that kinky.
Like mango pulp eaten off my stomach.
in the afternoon.
As if there is no tomorrow.
No space here for these messy, subcutaneous entanglements
death and desire.
Instead, on a plate, I am offered ‘Think Positive’.
‘Take Each Day As It Comes’.
Tiresome conspiracies,
prepare a bed made ready for self-betrayal and blame.
Keeping it manageable. Tidy. Clean.

I am here to lower the tone.
I like it dirty.
Eat me.

So walk with me into the back row of life.
Kiss me slowly into oblivion.
I am not interested in the show.
I am here to be caressed. Cradled. Enfolded.
The ultimate X-rated embrace.
No more fleshy denial.
No more refusals.
I want to open up, feel the stickiness of this intimacy
that is not invasion,
to twist and writhe my way through your rhizomatic routes
to just this side of rapture that is me.
All me.

I am here.
Take me.

Image nuckingfutsmama, flickr         

Image nuckingfutsmama, flickr


So after the morphine, the smile from a face
forever held at half tilt.
Forget the pity. Pass me my powder,
my rouge, my lipstick.
I can’t go out looking
                       like this.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Of these about 400 are men. There are ethnicity related variations in the disease. Black women diagnosed with breast cancer tend to be younger.
They are less likely to have their cancer detected through screening, and have worse prognosis tumours.
For more information see the Breast Cancer Care website
or call the helpline 0808 800 6000

Photo Will Venning and Ryan Irvan of collaborative installation with 
Gini Lawson and patients for the Visualising Affect Exhibition

Photo Will Venning and Ryan Irvan of collaborative installation with Gini Lawson and patients for the Visualising Affect Exhibition