The Memoir Garden

The Memoir Garden is a collection of poems published by Emma Claire Sweeney, a writer and Sunnyside Patron who has published arts features and pieces on disability for the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, Mslexia and The Times.

Drawing on regular workshops and interviews held over the course of a year with Sunnyside, Emma collaborated with eighteen participants to create poems from their own words. All the poems offer rare insights into lives that have too often been silenced.

Emma’s personal connection to disability inspired her to set up this project. Her sister is severely autistic so she knows first hand the importance of listening with the heart, and helping people with learning disabilities to challenge the systems that silence them.

Keely Siddiqui Charlick, Chief Executive at Sunnyside, said: “Emma’s belief in supporting people to tell their stories was compelling and fitted with my own experience of people with learning disability being seen as “less” – as a burden, simple, child-like and worse. The book demonstrates quite beautifully that these adults have rich, textured emotions.”

The book is available in our farm shop at Hemel Food Garden.


Ladies and gentlemen
This is Scott!

I like Mandy and Penny and Susan and Ethel,
Football and dancing and nice shirts and beer.
I like my mum and my dad, my nanny and Bob,
cooking lasagne and working outside.
I like Debbie and Rosie and Eunice and Pat,
Dancing Queen and discos and Robbie and Take That.

This is Scott,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Oh yeah! This is Scott.

Noreen Shazadee

Things I remember:
a village in Pakistan,
bare feet,
my nan
eating bananas, drinking water and yoghurt.

Things I like:
my bright pink sari,
my mum’s hot curry,
sunshine, and hosing down.

Things I want:
to go to the launch party,
to lose weight,
to work in a cake shop –
not far, in Hemel, not far.

Things I know:
I have two sisters,
One brother,
and a cousin –
I play with his children on the Wii.
Things I don’t know:
my dad’s job,
how to ice-skate,
what to buy with my money from Eid,
the name of my nan.

And things that make me calm:
and listening
to the water
in the sea.