'The day my dad went mad' by Patricia Hughes is Poem of the Week

entry picture

The Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘The day my dad went mad’ by Patricia Hughes.  The title of the poem speaks for itself. On her profile page Patricia says: “The written word has helped get me through many dark times. I have only recently started writing again after losing my creativity to depression … I believe that poetry and any form of self-expression can be an important part of recovery from mental illness.” In her replies to our questions she goes further, saying of her return to creativity: “I feel like I’ve released a bird out of a cage.”



What got you into writing?

I guess it was my love of books from an early age, it was a natural progression from loving words to trying to write words that mattered.


How long have you been writing?

I joined a local creative writing group in my thirties, but became mentally unwell for over a decade. I set aside all things creative for a long time. I was then offered some therapy and began writing again during that process, but it was solely as a means of healing. It is only in the past few months that I rejoined the local creative writing group. It has been a fantastic time. I feel like I've released a bird out of a cage.


Have you been to any open mic nights?

I went to my first open mic night in Belfast just three weeks ago. It was awe-inspiring to hear such fantastic poetry. Maybe soon I might find my voice.


Your favourite poem/poet?

Hard to say. The first book of poetry I owned and loved was Little Johnny’s Confession by Brian Patten. I love the beautiful bleakness of ‘This Dead Relationship’ by Katherine Pierpoint.


You're cast away on a desert island. What’s your luxury?

As long as there is an unlimited supply of decent red wine and tea for the morning after, my luxury would be a king-size bed with all my favourite books on it. I’m not keen on hammocks.




by Patricia Hughes 


He came undone with no sense of decorum.

His pants soiled and the room reeking of shit.

Paisley and the Pope shook hands in the Ivy house across the way,or so he said.

We laughed because it was easier than crying.

This was no celebrity breakdown;

there was chaos as he tried to climb the venetian blind,

And people sniggered as he danced with the shopping trolley,

mums best table lamp balanced on top to show him the way.

He became mute.

Exhausted by this world he retreated to some other benign place.

Lingered there for months,wrapped warm and cosy in a strait jacket.

He came home on Christmas day,a male nurse on either side of him.

His crazy blonde quiff still shone like a halo in the late December sun,

but nothing else remained.

He was a husk of a man,

A lithium hologram.



◄ Jess Green and her affirmation of nightlife on London's evening of terror

Write Out Loud Woking at the New Inn tonight ►


Profile image

Cynthia Buell Thomas

Wed 5th Jul 2017 12:09

An amazing work, sharp with realism and soft with compassion, just like life in general. The last line is a knockout punch.

Sharing poetry is a wonderful way to live together, isn't it? 'Be confident in your own 'philosophy' and share it honestly' was the best advice I ever got.

Love the FIRST comment from your daughter! No wonder she's proud. My family shares my work too.

Profile image

patricia Hughes

Sat 17th Jun 2017 20:34

Thank you Mark,and indeed to anyone who liked my poem and left comments,my confidence in my ability to write has had a huge boost.

Profile image

Mark Mr T Thompson

Sat 17th Jun 2017 09:03

The first line is strong and the last line is (in my opinion) stronger. In between it is personal, original and screams authenticity.

Profile image

Graham Sherwood

Wed 14th Jun 2017 11:08

A lovely write. The first line is the strongest for me. I often what sort of place dementia sufferers go to, is it safe etc.
Incredibly brave to get this down on paper in such a balanced way. Well done Patricia! And of course for POTW.

Profile image

Martin Elder

Tue 13th Jun 2017 23:22

A great poem Patricia. It's never nice to see that happen someone close to you I saw my own father suffer with dementia before he died and he was completely changed.
You seem to have captured it all well with both a touch of humour and some grace.
A well deserved POTW Congratulations

Profile image

patricia Hughes

Tue 13th Jun 2017 18:15

Thank you Colin for such positive comments about the poem and the friendly welcome too.
Both my daughter and myself are enjoying the opportunity to let others read our poetry,and having my poem picked for poem of the week has been a great confidence booster.

Profile image

Colin Hill

Tue 13th Jun 2017 08:12

such a great pick for POTW, the last line in particular resonates with me for personal reasons having had a relative who was kept stable on lithium until she felt better, then took herself off and the whole spiralling descent into manic behaviour would manifest itself resulting in sectioning, rehab, back home, lithium... She finally found quiet in her own way, may she rest in peace.

I must have missed this one when you first posted it although I did pick up on your following poem. May I say, it's good to have both you and your daughter here on WoL. I've been dipping in and out of both your blogs and enjoying them immensely. And with N.Ireland in the forefront of the news once again it's even more of a bonus for us.

all the best

Profile image

patricia Hughes

Mon 12th Jun 2017 14:12

Thank you for such positive comments Dominic and Julian.

Profile image

Dominic James

Mon 12th Jun 2017 12:18

Congratulations Patricia. Familiar, evocative and terribly hard. I think Julian has it right, very moving, well written and brave. Best wishes, Dom.

Profile image

Julian (Admin)

Mon 12th Jun 2017 11:01

Very moving, very well written, very brave. Thank you for sharing your superb poem with us all.

Profile image

patricia Hughes

Sun 11th Jun 2017 22:32

Thank you Kevin.

kJ Walker

Sun 11th Jun 2017 21:59

We'll deserved POTW .very honest, and couldn't have been an easy write. Your daughter has every right to be proud.

Profile image

patricia Hughes

Sun 11th Jun 2017 20:59

Thank you Seanin,
I wasn't expecting it to be made poem of the week,I'm really rather chuffed,it has given me a little burst of confidence.

Profile image

Seanin Hughes

Sun 11th Jun 2017 20:47

Very proud daughter here! Well done, mum - it's an incredibly honest and evocative piece.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message