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Poetry Blood and Bones: Poems by Physicians

JAMA. 1998;280(24):2128. doi:10.1001/jama.280.24.2128.
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More doctors write poetry than read it. No physician I know, whether in practice or academia, seems to have read a modern poem recently; certainly none has bought a book of verse. That's also true of my friends in law, business, and the media.

More's the pity, because while for the last half century American poetry has been in bloom, the works of Donald Hall, Ann Sexton, Richard Wilbur, Adrienne Rich, John Hollander, Elisabeth Bishop, and Robert Pinsky (our poet laureate) remain unattended in favor of the networks, the journals, and the news. Their works seem destined chiefly to be read by other poets or those who teach poetry. Robert Graves once despaired of a similar fate for his verses, claiming that poets were like the Scilly Islanders who made a living by taking in each other's washing, but nowhere in the Western world was laundry better done.


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