After spending 47 days in intensive care fighting coronavirus, author Michael Rosen is bringing out a book about his experiences with the illness. The book will describe everything, from the doctor who said he had a 50/50 chance of survival to the nurses who cared for him while in a coma.
The former children’s laureate, one of Britain’s most beloved authors, will publish Many Different Kinds of Love, a mix of prose poems and extracts from the notes written by nurses in his hospital ward, in March next year – 12 months after he first fell ill. The poet went home in June having lost most of the sight in his left eye and hearing in his left ear and having to learn to walk again.
“It’s like an itch almost – if something happens to you, you go to the computer or the pencil and paper and start scribbling,” he said. “And so I just started writing these fragments,” he said. “After I had a batch I sent them off just to see if anybody would be interested.” Ebury snapped up the book, saying that it “combines the wit, warmth, and insight that characterizes all of his work with a beautiful tribute to the NHS workers who saved his life”.
Michael Rosen says the poems are fragments of free verse, a technique he used after the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 18, in Carrying the Elephant. “I couldn’t do it in hospital. But once I came home, I felt I could write about it,” he said. “Some of it is about piecing together what happened, because it’s very hard and confusing, so writing enables you to get it into a kind of order.” A key part of the book, which will be illustrated by Chris Riddell, will be excerpts from the letters of hope and support the nurses wrote for Rosen while he was in intensive care.