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>  News Releases >   2006 >   October

Doctor and U.S. Poet Laureate to share stage for DMS Grand Rounds

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/05/06 • Genevieve Haas (603) 646-1445

On Friday, Oct. 20, U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall and Dr. Patrick Clary, founder and owner of The Palliative Care Service, will present Medical Grand Rounds at Dartmouth Medical School. Hall and Clary will present "Love and Death," on the intersection of illness, care-giving, grief and poetry.

Donald Hall
Donald Hall, U.S. Poet Laureate (photo by Steven Ratiner)

Hall, who lives in New Hampshire, is the author of numerous books of poetry, including White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems (2006), The Painted Bed (2002), and Without: Poems (1998). He may be best known for his elegiac works, specifically his writings about the illness and death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon. "Donald will be exploring  issues of illness, care-giving, grief and loss," said Dr. Ira Byock, Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and organizer of the event.

In addition to his work in medicine, Clary is also a published poet whose book of poems, Dying for Beginners, is due out this month from Lost Borders Press. As a physician, Clary has made it his mission to focus on the quality of life of those with advanced, complex or terminal illnesses. Like Hall, who has been a mentor, Clary's writing deals with issues of mortality, grief and loss, both personal and as aspects of his professional life.

Byock is a long-time friend and colleague of Clary, who introduced Hall and Byock. Shortly after Hall was named the U.S. Poet Laureate in June 2006, Byock approached him about the possibility of presenting Grand Rounds at DMS. His response, said Byock, was "I have no idea what Grand Rounds are, but if it's coming from you, I'd be delighted to present them."

Grand Rounds, explained Byock, are a prestigious forum held weekly in which physicians and researchers are invited to present their work. Normally well-attended by med students, hospital faculty and clinical staff, the presentations are a teaching tool, typically a highly scientific or clinical presentation. Clary said the teaching goals for "Love and Death" are to reintroduce medical professionals to "poetry as an art form which may most directly access experiences of grief and loss," to understand disease and death from the perspectives of two New Hampshire poets, and explore the need for empathy among medical providers.

Notwithstanding the event's departure from a clinical or technical presentation, it makes perfect sense, said Byock, to combine Hall and Clary's energies. "Patrick understands the Grand Rounds and is able to provide a context that legitimizes this for educational requirements." But Byock said he hopes the professionals and students who attend the lecture will take something more profound away from it. "Good poetry is good because it allows us to perceive things we might miss. It stops us and holds our attention and illuminates something real. Donald Hall and Patrick Clary allow us to see, and more importantly, feel how illness, care-giving and grief both tear at and expand our ability to live deeply."

"Love and Death" is open to the public and will take place on Friday, Oct. 20 from 8-9 a.m. in Auditorium G on Level 4 of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

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