Medicine as Poetry, Poetry as Medicine

A seminar for everyone interested in medicine and poetry

April 16, 2020
4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
700 S.W. Campus Drive
Portland, Oregon 97239
Room: Vey Auditorium, 11th Floor
Contact Information

45.4973002, -122.6860744

poetry word cloud

Careers in medicine challenge our resilience but also present frequent opportunities for artistic expression. Bearing witness to suffering, finding grace under pressure, experiencing the joy of scientific and personal discovery, and engaging with people from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds may inspire us to seek out creative forms that give voice to our experience. Poetry is unique in its distilled power to comfort, invigorate, and enlighten us to the full potential of working and living in the world of medicine.

“Medicine as Poetry, Poetry as Medicine” is a seminar for everyone. Current and future patients, providers, administrators, and all hospital employees are invited to attend this free event sponsored by the department of neurology.

Poetry for Everyone in the Medical Professions

Michael Wynn, D.O., FAAN

Everyone working in medicine witnesses the deep joy and piercing heartbreak of being human. Our patients show us both human frailty and inspiring durability. The unexplained diagnosis, randomness of disease, and sometimes surprising recovery are events that present opportunities for artistic expression. Poetry is a unique and effective means of helping us process what we see, hear, and touch in the clinic and hospital. Drawing on works by Derek Walcott, Adelia Prado, C. Dale Young, Seamus Heaney, Jo McDougall, Yusef Komunyakaa, and others, Michael Wynn will present poems that directly and indirectly speak to these experiences. He will explain what makes a poem pertinent to the world of medicine through discussion of the craft of writing poetry.

Michael Wynn completed his neurology residency and vascular neurology fellowship at OHSU. He has been in private practice since 1997. Inspired by the grace and inner strength of his patients, he began writing poetry in 2007. His poems have been published in JAMA, Neurology, The Cortland Review, Hektoen International and Untitled Country Review. His chapbook Bodies of Evidence was published in 2015. He is an invited speaker on poetry and writing at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting.

The Healing Power of Poetry

John Brehm, poet, editor and author

Poet and editor John Brehm will read selections from his acclaimed anthology, The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. This expansive collection ranges from ancient Chinese and Japanese poets, such as Chuang-Tzu, Li Po, Basho, Issa, and Buson, to modern and contemporary American and European poets, such as Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Wislawa Szymborska, and Billy Collins. Brehm will discuss how these poems illuminate the fundamental truths of the human condition and how reading them can deepen the empathy and compassion that are so vital for the health of practitioners and patients alike.

John Brehm is the author of the three books of poetry, most recently No Day at the Beach. He is the associate editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry and the editor of The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. His work has been featured in Poetry, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Best American Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Plume, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Daily, and many other journals and anthologies. He teaches for Mountain Writers Series and lives in Portland.

The Poet within You

Paulann Peterson, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

Poetry is not the domain of just a few. As natural and accessible as heartbeat and breath, poetry belongs to us all. Each of us has a poet within us, a self who responds to a poem, a self primed to write a poem. Each of us has a wellspring of imagery and metaphor waiting to be tapped. Join Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita Paulann Petersen in this generative workshop designed to stimulate and nurture your creative self. This is a workshop for novice and experienced writers alike. The only requirement is a willingness to let your pen move across the page as you follow language wherever it takes you.

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, has seven full-length books of poetry, most recently One Small Sun, from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Calyx, and the Internet’s Poetry Daily. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she received the 2006 Holbrook Award from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2013 she was Willamette Writers’ Distinguished Northwest Writer. The Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds chose a poem from her book The Voluptuary as the lyric for a choral composition that’s now part of the repertoire of the Choir at Trinity College Cambridge.