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The Healing Art: A Doctor's Black Bag of Poetry

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A celebrated poet and doctor connects--through favorite verses and stories from his life and practice--poetry and healing. AS A RESPECTED and much-loved doctor, Rafael Campo shares favorite poems with patients on his rounds. After all, incantation has played a role in healing for millennia, displaced only recently by modern scientific obsessions. In this luminous book, Cam A celebrated poet and doctor connects--through favorite verses and stories from his life and practice--poetry and healing. AS A RESPECTED and much-loved doctor, Rafael Campo shares favorite poems with patients on his rounds. After all, incantation has played a role in healing for millennia, displaced only recently by modern scientific obsessions. In this luminous book, Campo restores the link between poetry and healing, offering "pharmaceutical" samples of work by a diverse group of poets such as Mark Doty, Marilyn Hacker, Miroslav Holub, Audre Lorde, Lucia Perillo, and William Carlos Williams. He leads us through the stages of illness and recuperation, from first inklings of mortality through symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, and finally recovery or--and here medicine recoils but poetry perseveres--death, and even immortality. At each stage, Campo reveals the richness of individual poems and the potent medicine they offer. Ultimately, he proposes a "biocultural" model of illness as provocative as it is humane--one that restores the art of poetry to its rightful place at the heart of a healthy society.


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A celebrated poet and doctor connects--through favorite verses and stories from his life and practice--poetry and healing. AS A RESPECTED and much-loved doctor, Rafael Campo shares favorite poems with patients on his rounds. After all, incantation has played a role in healing for millennia, displaced only recently by modern scientific obsessions. In this luminous book, Cam A celebrated poet and doctor connects--through favorite verses and stories from his life and practice--poetry and healing. AS A RESPECTED and much-loved doctor, Rafael Campo shares favorite poems with patients on his rounds. After all, incantation has played a role in healing for millennia, displaced only recently by modern scientific obsessions. In this luminous book, Campo restores the link between poetry and healing, offering "pharmaceutical" samples of work by a diverse group of poets such as Mark Doty, Marilyn Hacker, Miroslav Holub, Audre Lorde, Lucia Perillo, and William Carlos Williams. He leads us through the stages of illness and recuperation, from first inklings of mortality through symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, and finally recovery or--and here medicine recoils but poetry perseveres--death, and even immortality. At each stage, Campo reveals the richness of individual poems and the potent medicine they offer. Ultimately, he proposes a "biocultural" model of illness as provocative as it is humane--one that restores the art of poetry to its rightful place at the heart of a healthy society.

30 review for The Healing Art: A Doctor's Black Bag of Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kerfe

    I really wanted to like this book. Using poetry as a healing tool seems a good idea. Well it still seems a good idea, but Campo's presentation was pompous and overwritten. Although he says he doesn't want to overanalyze the poems he presents to his readers (and presumably his students and patients), he fails to follow that formula in his book. He lost me near the beginning, with Marilyn Hacker's poem "Elysian Fields". The poem speaks of a neighborhood and time I knew well, upper Broadway near 105 I really wanted to like this book. Using poetry as a healing tool seems a good idea. Well it still seems a good idea, but Campo's presentation was pompous and overwritten. Although he says he doesn't want to overanalyze the poems he presents to his readers (and presumably his students and patients), he fails to follow that formula in his book. He lost me near the beginning, with Marilyn Hacker's poem "Elysian Fields". The poem speaks of a neighborhood and time I knew well, upper Broadway near 105th Street, 1980's, New York City. Both his analysis and Hacker's poem seemed contrived and untrue, a photo of an image, not a recognition. I didn't find either authenticity or healing there. OK, I thought. I did like a number of the poems he used as illustrations--I'm thinking especially of "Bill's Story" by Mark Doty and Alice Jones' "Prayer"--but I could not force myself through the tedious over-elaborate thoughts and discussion that pollowed the poets' words. One of the final chapters, "Further Reading" points readers in a number of inviting directions to original sources. It seems the best way to explore this still intriguing subject.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julene

    This overview of poetry as a healing art was written by Rafael Campo, a physician and a poet who uses poems with his patients. He does a deep dive into what it means to heal through poetry, looking back culturally. He want to 'resist the idea disease equals self-defeat,' and thus brings us to the work of David Martin, a social anthopoligist who wrote the book “Illness & Culture in the Post Modern Age.” "Morris believes that strict reliance on hard science oversimplifies the illness experience; h This overview of poetry as a healing art was written by Rafael Campo, a physician and a poet who uses poems with his patients. He does a deep dive into what it means to heal through poetry, looking back culturally. He want to 'resist the idea disease equals self-defeat,' and thus brings us to the work of David Martin, a social anthopoligist who wrote the book “Illness & Culture in the Post Modern Age.” "Morris believes that strict reliance on hard science oversimplifies the illness experience; he sees the rise of technology as cold and woefully insufficient for deliverance of the “sick soul” imagined by the likes of Pound, Moore, Stein, & Eliot.” He lays out facts, such as this one found in the "International Journal of Cardiology," "German researches have shown that metrical poetry, when read aloud for 30 minutes, slowed their subjects’ pulse rates, as compared to those who engaged in normal conversation for the same period of time. They hypothesize a “Harmonic interaction” between heart rate and respiratory rate, perhaps mediated through neural connections between the language centers in the cerebral cortex and the lower brain structures that govern autonomic nervous system responses, that tends to synchronize these cardiopulmonary functions; as a consequence, blood pressure may drop, allowing tense muscles to relax—singing hymns—cheers—chanting slogans, meditating—rhythmic language helps us breathe more deeply, makes our hearts pound more steadily, and reminds us our heads are joined to ecstatic, flesh and blood bodies." Or this one, found in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," "Among patients with chronic and debilitating medical conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, those who wrote creatively about their illness experiences reported fewer symptoms and exhibited less disability than those receiving usual care alone. The result is shocking not solely because modern-day physicians actually through to investigate a hypothesis as humane as one that posited a relationship between creative self-expression and healing but also because they “emotional” or “subjective” (usually so stridently dismissed as impossible to quantify) was quantifiable in these terms. Not just calming the pulse rate, or providing reassuring insight into what it might mean to be sick, but modifying the course of disease. The act of writing here seemed to heal, as the relentless deterioration caused by two very different yet equally complex illnesses was stalled with nothing more than paper and pen, language and imagination." In chapters labeled: Symptoms, Diagonsis, Treatment, Side Effects, End of Life, or a substitued name for one of his clients, he presents poems and how they work to soothe a patient. He uses poems to make his points from poets like Marilyn Hacker, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, William Carlos Williams, Audre Lorde, Tim Dlugos, Miroslave Holub (another physician poet), Mark Doty, Rika Lesser, Toi Derricotte, Maxine Kumin, are a few. This is a worthwhile book for all doctors to read and think about so they can have better bedside manners and be open to listen to their patients needs.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Janée Baugher

    This gay, Cuban, scholar/physician advocates using medicine to inspire poems, which is to say that he certainly has a niche. As a person who began her career in the sciences, here's what brilliancy I found in this collection...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Ensign

    While I like much of Campo's own poetry, I found this book to be rather dry and academic. It reads more like a series of ponderous ivy-league lectures and as such it was a disappointment.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I simply could not get into this book because it was like reading an English class lecture on poetry. I do think that the topic was interesting (the use of poetry as a healing influence) and that the author, a doctor, is believes strongly in his topic. I think it is actually a well-written book; I just could not get into it because I am just not into poetry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim Langley

    Disappointed. Author selects poems that are fairly inaccessible to any but the serious reader. And it seems to me that when you're handing out poems to patients as an adjunct to self-care, which I support entirely, they should be problems that can be readily grasped and support reflection rather than confusion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sam Mills

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jose Araguz

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eugenia

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  15. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Salazar

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathrine

  18. 4 out of 5

    June Converse

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arianne Deanne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Monica Snyder

  22. 4 out of 5

    Two Readers in Love

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rambling Reader

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelley White

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'connor

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paa

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

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