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Edited by D Morley. Stride, 2002, £7.95, pp 261. ISBN 1-900152--1
The Gift is an anthology of writing, prose, and poetry, commissioned by David Morley, who heads the Warwick writing programme at Warwick University, in the United Kingdom. It includes 114 pieces, some from professional writers, others from National Health Service staff who took part in writing workshops with the editor, and one from the editor himself. The professional writers include Dannie Abse, Hanif Kureishi, Doris Lessing, Fay Weldon, Tom Paulin, and many others. Much of the work is excellent. It is arranged thematically, progressing from birth, through growth, and the process of illness and death. It was produced as a joint project with Birmingham Health Authority and a copy given to every member of National Health Service staff in Birmingham, UK—31 000 copies in all. This, according to the preface, was to “celebrate the NHS workforce in Birmingham, to acknowledge the role they all play in this endeavour that is so much part of all our lives”. Ironically, less than one year after the publication of the book, the Birmingham Health Authority ceased to exist, having been amalgamated, in the most recent NHS reorganisation, with neighbouring authorities in Dudley, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton to make one of the new Strategic health authorities.
David Morley describes the book as “writing as an act of community, even solidarity” and this is a book with aims and objectives, with purposes. This may be fitting for a project involving the …