Cynthia Fuller on ‘today today today’

The poems in Alec Finlay’s pamphlet today today today are a response to illness which brings out a
sense of complexity and diversity in words and images both moving and profound. The poems
are sharply focused, suggesting a distillation of the experience of patients and carers.
There are moments of revelation, of honesty, of acceptance. We are taken into the dailiness of
illness, the aloneness, and the way words and everyday things can sometimes offer
consolation. The poems suggest individual voices but also snatches of conversation and
shared experience. There is a sense throughout that every word has been carefully chosen.
Each small poem crystallises a moment, a thought, a discovery. There is a recurrent
movement back to the importance of ‘today’, of being in the present moment.

 The layout and design ensure that the reader gives each word proper attention. The space
around the poems allows the reader to slow down – to read and think about each line. It allows
us to rest in each poem and hear each voice. The print itself is fine, delicate, not assertive on the
cream page, creating a sense of quietness and reflection. The pamphlet is a beautiful object in
visual and tactile terms; the poems give the reader a rare glimpse into the minds and perspectives
of those living with illness.

Cynthia Fuller

‘Writing in Health’ Tutor, Newcastle University
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