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Body Language: Poems of the Medical Training Experience (BOA Anthology Series) [Paperback]

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Item description for Body Language: Poems of the Medical Training Experience (BOA Anthology Series) by Stephanie Brown Clark...

In Body Language physicians and medical students chronicle their challenging, often harrowing experiences. The anthology is broken into six sections: Medical Student, First Year; Second Year; Clinical Years; Intern; Resident; and Attending. Other anthologies have featured poems about medicine and healthcare, but the approach of this collection-poems written by doctors-in-training proceeding step-by-step through the medical training experience-is unique in medical literature. By presenting physicians who are also skilled poets addressing a diverse range of medical situations, Body Language offers fascinating insights into the inner world of people who regularly face life-and-death decisions.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   159
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 6" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2006
Publisher   BOA Editions Ltd.
ISBN  1929918860  
ISBN13  9781929918867  

Availability  0 units.

More About Stephanie Brown Clark

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephanie Brown Clark received her MA in English Literature from the University of Western Ontario, with an MD from McMaster University. She completed her PhD in medical history and English Literature at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1998, and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester Medical Centre.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Anthologies
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > British & Irish
4Books > Subjects > Medicine > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Body Language: Poems of the Medical Training Experience (BOA Anthology Series)?

Masters of the Scalpel are Masters of the Pen!  Mar 6, 2007
Reading "Body Language" brings the reader into a world that is completely unfamiliar to most of us, the world of medicine. It's a compilation of poetry written entirely by doctors. The poems explore their world, a world of sixteen hour days, catheters, and mental patients. While this world is unfamiliar to me, except occasionally as a patient or family of a patient, these poems bring me right into the action. I feel like I am an intern working a sixteen-hour day who has not seen my mother in months.

The poems are magical in that they explore something wholly different from our day-to-day experiences. The subjects of these poems are not flowers or beautiful women; they are the gritty truths of life as a doctor, and they bring the reader right into that OR. The doctors write of unfamiliar or even scary subjects in a way that speaks to universal human truths and emotions. They explore love, loss, death, relationships, exhaustion, and aging, all things that are a part of our day-to-day lives.

The beauty of this compilation is that it brings the world of the young doctor, the intern, to life in a way I've only before seen on television. These doctors, masters of the scalpel, are also masters of the pen.
A refreshing collection of poetry  Jan 14, 2007
Poetry, without question, is a tricky thing. For many Americans it is an inapproachable art form that resides in a fortress guarded by elitist intellectuals. For the minority of Americans who read it, it is a personal thing--tough to define what works for some readers and tougher to understand for most. For the occasional reader of poetry, the favorite poem is usually something that sparks a familiar memory and puts it in perspective--a first love, the sight of the moon rising over a ridge in the mountains in the winter or the memory of a summer night in youth. For those of us that don't read much poetry it is the commonality of experience buried in the words speaking to something deep down inside of our common existence as humans that's tends to attract us to a poem.

While the language in many of the poems in Body Language is striking, what draws the physician reader in more than anything else is the commonality of experiences inherent in these works. There are many remarkable landscapes in these poems, from the struggle to understand the intricate detail of the human body in anatomy class to the indelible memories of the manic patients or hopelessly depressed during psychiatry core clerkship. It is mostly all here, in the form of poetry, evoking those moments that most physicians have painfully internalized or stepped around or ignored for the lack of time to pay any attention to. For some these things have become shadows and for others scars and for many, things they just never understood very well to begin with and don't want to think about much any more. These are poems about all physicians as much as they are about those of the physician poets that wrote them. This book brings important experiences back, whether sadly, bluntly, humorously or subtly, in a way that reminds physicians of all the things they've been blessed and cursed to see and be part of.

Body Language was the "brain child" of Neeta Jain, currently an R3 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, when she was still a medical student at University of Rochester School of Medicine. She collaborated with another medical student at Yale University, Dagan Coppock with the support of her U of Rochester faculty advisor, Stephanie Brown Clark. While still 4th year medical students, Neeta and Dagan solicited submissions from students, residents and attending physicians from across the United States, receiving hundreds of submissions. Ultimately they culled out around 90 poems to create this anthology.

Perhaps I am cynical or perhaps I just don't really believe that given the frantic nature of modern medicine, that there are many doctors that can devote the time to polishing their poetry in the tradition of William Carlos Williams, a New Jersey General Practitioner who practiced prior to the era of information overload. Williams wrote on a typewriter in between patients, during the time doctors now reserve for looking up a question, returning a phone call or answering an old email.

But I was wrong. I came home from work exhausted one recent evening and picked up the book to discover another world, however familiar that world was. In that world are poems that occasionally jump off the page. Many of these poems are written by serious poets, poets published long before this book came along, and some are written by relative novices. But what unites these poems is the power--the raw emotion--of so many of the experiences described. We're reminded of overwhelming fatigue so harsh one envies the dead or the mundane call to pronounce a patient's death before fading back into the halls of the hospital. It is all here, experiences in training and in the practice of medicine.

The anthology is divided into six sections:
Medical student, first year; Medical student, second year; Medical student, clinical years; Intern; Resident; Attending. It is almost impossible not to find a situation or emotion in a poem in each section that all physicians have experienced at some point in their lives. For example, life that occasionally interjects itself into the mind numbing lecture hall of our pre-clinical years of medical school (Richard M. Berlin):

Medical School Lovers
One morning, while disease-slides flashed
and filled the lecture room with twilight blue,
the back door opened a sliver of light
and they entered holding hands.

A few of us turned, then the others,
four hundred eyes focused
on the couple at the door,
faces still flushed from making love,

their pleasure so certain.
The slides flashed on
and the lecturer persisted
but we were gone for the day,

Still dazed by the way love can enter
our lives in a flash of light,
spinning our heads as we struggle
with lessons everyone learns in the dark.

And for residents, the "soft" admit in the night (Mindy Shah):

It's what we call
a "soft" admit,
which means
your illness does not
impress us.
Here is your room,
the toilet, your bag
of personal belongings.
The toothbrush is
on us.
We'll round at seven,
but I can tell
by the smell of your breath
you're going to live.

To summarize, after reading this book cover to cover, I was not surprised to learn that Garrison Keillor had picked up a copy and had asked permission to read some of its contents on his radio show--Writer's Almanac. It is great stuff that speaks about many of the things doctors have been through that they're too tired or too busy or too afraid to stop and ponder over the years of practicing medicine. I highly recommend the anthology and congratulate Neeta Jain and her co-editors on a tremendous achievement.

Stolen Kisses (by Emily Osborn)
The fresh-laundered smell
of a boy's shirt
startles me
leaning closer
with my stethoscope
I pretend to hear a murmur
soak in the odor
of a kiss
My rating is a little biased  Dec 31, 2006
Just to preface the fact that this review is a little biased, I am one of the writers who contributed to this book.

However I do think that I can speak for what I thought of the collection as a whole. This project has been in the works for a number of years now, and I have been eagerly awaiting it coming out.

Since getting the book, I have been amazed at the depth and breadth of the poems contained in this anthology. I have found some of them heartwarming and some of them frankly disturbing, but they all evoked something from me, and that I find to be valuable.

I loved that these poems address the training experience from different viewpoints. Many of the poems contained within are from the mind and heart of the medical students, physicians, etc, while another group comes from inside the patient's soul. It is this complex interaction developing between the poems that I have found to be the most intriguing to me.

I hope to have the opportunity to hear more from the voices of my fellow poets in the medical field.

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