Art Works Blog

Alternative Medicine: An Art Talk with Dr. Rafael Campo

"Every interaction with a patient is in some sense a form of poetry." - Dr. Rafael Campo 

Dr. Rafael Campo is that rare kind of human being who’s both right and left-brained. Not only is he a doctor, he’s a published and well-respected poet. Campo is as serious about the power of medicine as he is about the power of poetry. He deeply believes the arts and the humanities can heal, and unlike many folks who say that somewhat figuratively, he means it literally. Campo reads poetry with his patients to help navigate a new illness or a troubling diagnosis and he also teaches writing workshops at his hospital. I’m not quite sure when he sleeps, but that’s beside the point.

In this interview, we talk about teaching empathy, curious new Scrabble words like iatrogenic, and why he’s in love with Emily Dickinson. In fact, Campo will be the tribute reader for Emily Dickinson’s birthday (184 years ago on December 10th) at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, on Monday night. The doctor is in. Come on out and let the healing begin. (The author of this post is also a poet.)

And if that's not enough Emily Dickinson for you, head over to the Big Read website to check out our material on this timeless Big Read poet. And for more on arts and health, check out the new issue of NEA Arts.


Poem Credits:

*After great pain a formal feeling comes digitally reproduced by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © renewed 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1914, 1918, 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1942, by Martha Dickinson Bianchi. Copyright © 1952, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1965, by Mary L. Hampson.

*Split the lark and you'll find the music is in the public domain. 

*Poems from Alternative Medicine by Rafael Campo used by permission of the author and Georges Borchardt, Inc.

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