Poetry and Medicine, The Language of the Body

Some great resources included in this post.

Lynn Pedersen

I recently discovered a great segment on PBS NewsHour about poetry and medicine titled “Student physicians embrace poetry to hone art of healing.” It features interviews with former poet laureate Natasha Tretheway and physician poet Rafael Campo. The two discuss how poetry can broaden the education and empathy of medical students and physicians. Rafael Campo has written six collections of poetry, the latest of which is Alternative Medicine.

If you have problems accessing the video, the url is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKP2rmEO1RM

The most interesting bit for me was the idea that patients who are trying to describe their illness are often using the language of poetry, of metaphor and simile, to communicate. A patient might describe pain by saying, “I felt like I was hit by a truck” or “a knife was stabbing me.”

Where to publish poems with a medical theme

If you have poems on the themes of illness…

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3 thoughts on “Poetry and Medicine, The Language of the Body

  1. Ya know I’ve heard of medical programs that require doctors to take courses on how to write narratives because patients give their medical history that way. This is a really neat extension of that idea 🙂 Sometimes I do a section on why poetry matters and I find things like this to use so I’m gonna add it to my list! Thanks.

  2. This is fabulous, thank you.
    Maybe a link also to WCW, that people die for the lack of what is found there…. 🙂

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