Redbourn cancer victim's poetry lives on

PUBLISHED: 09:57 22 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

Barbara Cormack

Barbara Cormack

THE VOICE of a cancer patient who died in a local hospice five years ago can be heard again through her poetry. Barbara Cormack, who lived in Redbourn, has had her collection of personal and mostly unseen poetry published more then five years after her de

THE VOICE of a cancer patient who died in a local hospice five years ago can be heard again through her poetry.

Barbara Cormack, who lived in Redbourn, has had her collection of personal and mostly unseen poetry published more then five years after her death at the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.

Around 300 poems, some of which were still in her handwriting, are being made public by her husband Douglas through publication in poetry magazines and now in the collection called For All Seasons.

Some of Barbara's earlier poems were published when she lived in America as a student but after she came to England, she did not submit anything until just before she died.

Her last submission was finally accepted by The Spectator, the day before she came to the hospice and three weeks before her death from cancer in 2004 aged 65.

Douglas, 70, encouraged his wife to publish her many poems throughout their married life. The couple met in the sixties when Douglas was a physical chemist and Barbara was working in oceanography on Cape Cod.

Barbara had written poetry since her school days and was influenced by her time spent near the Connecticut coast and on Cape Cod with her family.

When the couple moved to the UK she continued to write. Douglas explained: "She would spend her time writing quietly without talking about it and made no attempt to try to get anything published. She'd be pleased now and I know she would have taken charge of the project had she been here today."

Barbara went to work in social services in Welwyn Garden City after the couple's two sons had left school. She then met Hitchin-based poet Martin Cook who was hugely interested in her work.

Douglas went on: "After she died Martin got in touch and said we should publish her work and now some two dozen poems have appeared in the poetry magazines.

"The publication, For All Seasons, has been edited by Patricia Oxley, editor of Acumen, and all the proceeds will now go to the Hospice of St Francis."

He said his wife wanted to be in the care of people who could help her when she was dying and was very glad to be at the Hospice of St Francis.

He added: "In her very last days, when she could hardly hold a pen, she would still be trying to write. Some of her last words were written about a fellow patient who shared her room though this poem is unfinished.

"It is hoped that through this collection and future books, her voice can be heard once more."

To purchase a copy of For All Seasons, contact Douglas on 01582 794046 or visit one of the Hospice of St Francis' shops, details of which can be found at www.stfrancis.org.uk

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