, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 135-141
Date: 23 Jan 2009

Feeding…Being Fed: Poetry and Commentary

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Intellectual curiosity without sensitivity to the effects of curiosity creates an impasse. “Check out the fascinoma in room 303” is an instruction for medical students to puzzle out a difficult diagnostic problem. Young doctors-in-training receive a multitude of such messages encouraging objectification, distance, encapsulation and otherness vis-à-vis patients.

By contrast, the three women physician-poets featured in this article offer strong voices calling for the primacy of human interaction as the basis for the doctor-patient relationship. Because their intellectual curiosity encompasses compassion, the explorations into patient and physician experiences are rich, nuanced and surprising. By using the form of poems—spaces between lines and stanzas, repetitions, continuities and discontinuities—poets give resonance and shape to their ideas. Words echo, phrases sing. Here, the songs acknowledge the separate lives of patient and physician but also, at times, the blurring of t