Not everyone is a writer so if putting pen to paper isn’t for you, reading poetry can bring many of the same wellbeing benefits. We spoke to PHA UK member June Williams about how it helps her manage stress, stay uplifted and even keep connected to friends.

Poetry has been part of June’s life since she was a little girl and now, at the age of 72, it is still a close ally. During times of uncertainty, such as the coronavirus pandemic, it has been a lifeline.

“I find reading poetry out loud very uplifting and at times of stress, I get the poetry books out,” she said. “I find reading aloud helpful as I live on my own. I still have poems in my head from 60 years ago, and they pop up from time to time. A lot of them come from my childhood, from my father, who loved to read funny ones to me.”

June, who is a retired pharmacist, still has her father’s poetry book from 1928. She’s a big fan of children’s poems, counting ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ by Edward Lear amongst her favourites.

June likes to share the joys of poetry, and keep connected to people too, by writing out poems and posting them to friends – who then return the favour by sending something back.

She also copies poems onto cards and leaves them on her local vicar’s doorstep, and he has left ones on hers in return. June was particularly pleased to hear he had passed some of her cards onto his 93-year mother, so the words were spreading even further.

She finds poetry particularly helpful during periods of illness. “I took my little book of poems in with me when I had to stay at my specialist centre for three days,” she added, “and I have read poetry to other people on the ward when I have been in hospital too.”

These are two of June’s favourite short poems for reading out loud. Why not give them a go?


by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you’re in bed.

So – –
Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.


By Adam Lindsay-Gordon

Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.