I have begun an MFA in Creative Writing through Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a low-residency program that I attend on campus, twice a year. In between I read, write and submit my work to a faculty mentor. This first semester I had the privilege of working with Rafael Campo, MD. and poet. Rafael is well known as a doctor who works primarily with oncology and HIV patients. He is also well known for his poetry and his unique teaching program in the medical school at Harvard University.
In his course at Harvard Medical School (HMS) Rafael exposes medical students to writings in a diverse array of literature. In his own words he says: “Medical students and house staff, as well as their medical faculty supervisors, find Art + Humanities @ HMS an invaluable resource in renewing their commitment to medicine, by stimulating their personal growth, mirroring their own life experiences through the lens of diverse peoples, and offering an alternative discourse of empathy and mutual respect to counter the growing cynicism in our profession.”
My work this past term was not only to read a range of poets and essayists who write about illness, the body, healing and language and write both poems and essays myself, but also to choose a variety of readings and create writing prompts for a class called Poetry and Prose Rounds held at the U of WA. I taught this course in conjunction with a professor of nursing, Josephine Ensign, who started it a couple of years ago. I had gone to the original workshop and found it very stimulating. The people who attended were from a variety of health fields. We again offered it to anyone in the health science field.
I will write more about the readings and prompts for Poetry and Prose Rounds, though some of that information is already available if you click the link for the class, above.
In addition, I also taught the third round of Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness & Healing and you can read about that and read some of the student’s work under another blog post.