How Words Can Heal

How Words Can Heal: Celebrating the Intersection of Poetry and Medicine

The physician-poet William Carlos Williams knew that words had a place in healing, once writing, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” What role does poetry have in the lives of physicians, scientists, patients, and caregivers?

To explore this question, BLR presents “How Words Can Heal,” an event that brings together diverse perspectives at this intersection of arts and sciences. Panelists Jenny Qi, Ph.D., former cancer biologist and author of the award-winning debut poetry collection Focal Point; physician-poet Dr. David Watts, author of Having and Keeping; poet and translator Patrick Donnelly, author of Little-Known Operas; and “rural hip-hop blues” poet Saleem Hue Penny, winner of BLR’s 2021 Vilcek Prize for Poetry, read a selection of their poems and discuss the convergence of poetry and medicine in their work and lives. The event was moderated by BLR Poetry Editor and author of Devil’s Lake Sarah M. Sala.