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Inpatients at Dunedin, Wakari, Southland and Lakes District Hospitals were given the printed poetry on their lunchtime meal trays by Dunedin arts-in-health charity Poems in the Waiting Room.
Founder Ruth Arnison said the initiative was the first her organisation had done for poetry day, and she hoped to continue it in future.
She said poetry could have a positive effect on hospital patients."If you're in there and you're worried about what's going to be happening or you're feeling a little bit down, and you read it, maybe you get a smile or maybe you think of something else.
"It takes your mind away for a minute from what's going on around you."
Tracy de Woeps found herself in a hospital bed yesterday, and said finding a poem on her lunchtime meal tray was "really nice".
"It actually makes you smile and cheers you up."