The Hands of Strangers
Poems from the Nursing Home
Published by: BOA Editions Ltd.
Release Date: September 20, 2011
As people live longer, we face the challenges that come with caring for and living as an aging population. This collection focuses on the sad, funny, mundane reality of life in a nursing home. In her own words, Janice N. Harrington worked her way through college as a nurses' aide and wrote The Hands of Strangers because she "cannot forget the 'girls' I worked with or the 'residents' under my care. I haven't forgotten what I saw, heard, felt, or learned."
"Most of us do not think much of the frail elderly, the people who require constant care to get to the end of the day, near the end of their lives; still less do most of us think about their caregivers, the paraprofessionals and aides who perform, in nursing homes and outside them, an endless string of repetitive duties. Harrington's arresting book-length sequence of short clear poems takes long looks at these scenes, and at the people in them."
"Janice Harrington's work should be required reading for nurses, doctors and practitioners entering the ward."
—The Washington Independent Review of Books
“Janice Harrington, an accomplished poet and author of children’s books, takes on a difficult, deep, yet rewarding topic in this collection of poems regarding life in a nursing home. . . . You will not look at someone in scrubs who you know is not a doctor the same again when you see them in the grocery store at some odd hour, tired as all, buying something for dinner at midnight. . . . The ability of poetry to bring difficult lives into view with empathy is something Harrington handles with the utmost of skill.”
—Coal Hill Review
“This book-length collection of poems vividly describes the daily routines and grapples with the philosophical concerns of long-term care, including the complexities of aging, the burdens and rewards of caregiving, and the inevitably of death. . . . [Y]ou don’t need to be a particular fan of poetry to appreciate Harrington’s work. Her language, while artful, is rarely esoteric, and many of the poems tell some sort of story or paint a portrait of a character.”
―McKnight's Long-term Care News