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Poetry & Medicine –
Project Description

Overview
Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine is a multi-hour television program on the poetry of illness and recovery. The broadcast program will feature caregivers, patients, families, poets both published and unknown, all who have written about illness and release. That many nurses and physicians write poems will come as surprise to an audience of patients who have grown cynical about health care costs, impersonal treatment, and the intrusion of corporate self-interest in the doctor-patient relationship. Poetry serves to remind us of the spiritual mission of medicine. Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine will demonstrate the inspirational, therapeutic, and healing power of poetry.

We believe that healing is an art, not merely a skill, and thus the practice of medicine should be founded upon an ethos that embraces the whole range of human emotion. An effective caregiver brings to healing not only the fruits of science and technology but a compassionate spirit—a spirit best nurtured by the arts.

Further, we have found many more levels to healing than can be addressed by medicine. Poetry will tell the stories of our bodies and our hearts during the stress of illness, birth, and uncertain recovery. Here, through the medical experience, we isolate a crucible in the lives of so many, one we would run from if we could. Poetry is born in the space between thought and experience. Sickness, to a poet, is a challenge that is met first by the word and then by the body. These tests are evidence we are ready for the growth they require of us.

This program is about participation in our own health.

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Our Audience
Our primary audience is anyone in need, anyone who has at one time or another encountered illness, either as a caregiver, a patient, a friend, or a family member. Health care professionals, who may have never considered poetry, will hear -and see demonstrated- the power of language when communicating with patients and their families.

We believe Healing Words can introduce a new way of caring for self and others, one that costs nothing but attention.

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