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Vital Signs

Bernadine Z. Paulshock, MD
JAMA. 1991;266(12):1704. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470120106047.
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Imagination is "an ingredient as necessary to poetry as rhythm and active language,"1 led off a recent article on poetry in The New Yorker. And in an article entitled "Can Poetry Matter?" Gioia declared, "American poetry now belongs to a subculture," and "[is] no longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life."2 Both authors would, I think, appreciate the effort behind this little book, which includes poems with titles like "Janet Was Stabbed" by James W. Voell, MD, "Spinal Anesthesia" by Bert Hirschhorn, MD, and "Psychiatric Consult on an Anorectic Girl With Long Hair" by Eric K. Bonsall, MD.

In his poem Bonsall says his patient "sips from her IV" and tells her, "Your chart is thick with your thinness" but "does not contain the tears."

Nine of the 40 poets represented have had their poems published before, primarily in medical journals. It's truly wonderful that


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