Poetry is Bridge Between Literature and Medicine

            Healing, as I define it in my new book, Healing and the Creative Response, (2010 Brooks Goldmann Publ.) is “restoration of equilibrium through any means, does not imply curing of physical ailments, although it usually reduces suffering”.

           As someone who facilitates healing, I know that healing often releases what I call the Creative Response in both the healer and the person receiving the healing. This term refers to “the natural expression of inner feelings through self-expression often triggered by the healing process”. 

            For example, consider how poetry has become a bridge between literature and medicine in Poesia del Sol (Poetry of the Sun) a joint project between Arizona State University’s creative writing program and Mayo Clinic’s Center for Humanities in Medicine. 

            The project began for Sheilah Britton, managing editor for ASU Research Publications, about five years ago as she was completing her MFA in Creative Writing.  Although some might consider this depressing, she describes it as exhilarating, incredible, “a life calling”.

 Alberto Rios, the architect of the program and a Regents’ professor of English at ASU, called it “lyrical medicine” in an interview with Joshua Schoonover published in the April, 2009, issue of Phoenix Magazine (pg. 76). 

            Britton visits the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where she interviews dying patients and their families.  After listening to the patients for about an hour she finds a quiet area of the hospital where she composes a poem based on the exchange.  In this way she heals by bringing to light the inner poetry which she knows is within all living beings.

            “Just as life continues until the moment of death, so does the poetry”, according to Britton.  She frames the finished poem, printed on handmade paper, and presents it to the patient and the patient’s family.  Some of Britton’s poems have been used in the funerals of the patients. 

            The Creative Response can take any form: creative writing, music, painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture, pottery,dance, decorating, flower arranging, stained glass, sewing, quilting, etc.  I invite you to share your Healing and Creative Responses with me.

2 Responses to “Poetry is Bridge Between Literature and Medicine”

  1. Laura Genoway Says:

    I am looking forward to your new book!

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