A Hospital Odyssey is an outrageously imaginative voyage through illness and healing. Drawing on the most recent biomedical research into stem cells and cancer, the poem is a journey through the body’s inner space and the strange habitats created by disease, including the chimeras people see when they’re unwell.
Maris, whose husband, Hardy, has been diagnosed with cancer, is separated from him. Her mythical journey leads though a surreal landscape, peopled by true and false physicians, god-celebrities, rabid statues, diseases hunting healthy bodies and a microbes holding their annual ball. The Otherworld is located in the hospital’s basement. In her desperate search Maris meets and converses with Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS.
Immensely readable, A Hospital Odyssey is a modern epic: Dr Who meets Paradise Lost. The poem asks: what is health? And what does it mean to care for someone who’s ill?
Gwyneth Lewis's dramatisation of A Hospital Odyssey was broadcast as Radio 4's Afternoon Drama on 26 June 2014.
'Gwyneth Lewis's remarkable long poem, an epic for our time, tracks...a pilgrim's progress, as Maris, her heroine and surrogate, takes on both disease and the National Health Service in her fight to save her cancer-stricken husband, Hardy. The result is a kind of surreal modern morality tale....overall, this is a performance that more than confirms Gwyneth Lewis's reputation as one of the most exhilaratingly gifted poets of her generation' – M. Wynn Thomas, Guardian.
‘Such exuberant invention… The range of reference is so wide, we are intoxicated by it’ – Elaine Feinstein, Independent.
'Gwyneth Lewis's astonishing book-length poem...transforms weighty subject matter into a heady mix of dream vision, ripping yarn and love story. The hospital becomes a version of Dante's Inferno, where Maris witnesses the Microbes' Ball ("Imagine a disco painted by Bosch") and meets, among others, Helen of Troy and Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the NHS. Along the way there are also hard-won insights: "When love's so weary it hopes for nothing/ it's at its strongest, though it feels no power."' – Paul Batchelor, The Times, Best Poetry Books of the Year.
Gwyneth Lewis reads two poems
Gwyneth Lewis reads two poems from Chaotic Angels: Poems in English (Bloodaxe Books, 2005), 'Welsh Espionage'  and 'Mother Tongue'. This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).