“It was important to me that I create something that highlighted, demonstrated the value that disabled people have, that we’re not just vulnerable, or disposable, that we’re a part of the world – and everyone’s interconnected.”
Jamie Hale is an artist, curator, poet, writer, playwright, actor, and director. They create poetry, comedy, scriptwriting, and drama for page, stage, and screen.
They have performed their work at the Barbican, Invisible Fest, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre and with Graeae, and have written for publications including the Guardian and Magma. Their pandemic poetry pamphlet, Shield, is published in Jan 2021.
They are also an expert in disability and health and social care policy: They are CEO of Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance, chair Lewisham Disabled People’s Commission, and are studying for a Master’s in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics of Health at UCL.
As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, Jamie was told by their GP that, due to their underlying health condition, they would not be a priority for critical care treatment.
Using the compressed form of a sonnet, Jamie wrote and re-wrote the experience of facing their own mortality, sometimes in their own voice, sometimes from the perspectives of others – a nurse working during the pandemic or the first carriers of the Spanish Flu – capturing the crisis from all angles.
This work became a pamphlet, Shield, 21 sonnets following Jamie through the grief of facing death while newly married, and into a place of resilience, resistance, and a commitment to creation against mortality.
my ventilator is set to 14 and 5
these are normal he says i type it frantic
he’s still a child in my head my brother says
don’t let your oxygen levels drop
below 80 don’t increase your
ventilator settings too much you’d risk
gastric insufflation remember
tidal volume is estimated based on
what’s left in the lung as it closes
remember love is based on tides
as they come in closer remember
to bring your own ventilator
remember if they’re overwhelmed
they’ll save anyone before you
NOT DYING is Jamie’s self-written and solo-performed show, combining poetry, comedy, narrative storytelling and drama. It explores their experiences moving between the categories of ‘dying’ and ‘not dying’ and what it means to make art amidst this experience of flux.
It was developed through Barbican OpenLab, before being performed at the Lyric Hammersmith in June 2019 and the Barbican Centre as part of CRIPtic, a showcase of d/Deaf and disabled artists curated by Jamie in October 2019.