Poetry in Medicine: A Contest Celebration and Reading

Oliver Wendall Holmes

This week the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will be celebrating Poetry in Medicine, a recent poetry competition aimed at recognizing the place of art in medicine -- and medicine in art. Sketch of Oliver Wendell Holmes Physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes “The idea of the practice of medicine as an art is not new,” said Dr. Molly O’Dell, director of the New River Health District and a poet who conceived the program. “The practice of medicine as the inspiration for art is another one altogether. If medicine is based in science and technology, can it also have a place in the humanities?”

The celebration will take place April 11 at 7 p.m. at the June M. McBroom Theatre of Community High School of Arts and Academics in downtown Roanoke. The event will feature readings by the competition winners, including Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students and undergraduate and graduate students in creative writing at Virginia Tech. The competition judge, Dr. Jack Coulehan, will also give a reading. An emeritus professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University in New York, Coulehan has published numerous poetry collections. A reception will follow the readings.

“We’re delighted that Dr. Coulehan will be joining us,” said O’Dell. “His poems have appeared in literary magazines throughout the world, and his work has been widely anthologized and celebrated. We look forward to his insights and inspiration.”

Joining O’Dell in developing the Poetry in Medicine program was a team that included Dr. David Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture and a co-founder of the Creativity in Health Education Program at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Cara Modisett and Josh Chapman, writers and literary event producers at Community High School of Arts and Academics; Bob Hicok, an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech and the recipient of multiple honors for his own poetry; and Bernice Hausman, a professor of English at Virginia Tech and a professor of interprofessionalism at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The Poetry in Medicine awards are sponsored by the Roanoke Times and World News and the Tuberculosis Foundation of Virginia, in collaboration with Community High School of Arts and Academics, Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Creativity in Health Education Program and Class of 2014.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute joins the basic science, life science, bioinformatics, and engineering strengths of Virginia Tech with the medical practice and medical education experience of Carilion Clinic. Virginia Tech Carilion is located in a new biomedical health sciences campus in Roanoke at 2 Riverside Circle.