Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Soul of the Healer

Recently, I came across an intriguing comment in a local paper. "Since nobody reads poetry anymore, why should our taxes pay for a poet laureate?" At first I was amazed anyone would object to having a national poet laureate. Then I was even more amazed by the suggestion that no one reads poetry anymore.

Still, it's entirely possible this might be true in a certain sense. When was the last time a poet's work made the New York Times Bestseller list? Maybe it's the

Signature of William Shakespeare from Page 3 o...
notion that poetry is difficult to understand or that only intellectuals read it? But we love music and lyrics are poetry of a particular kind. What's so different about Ogden Nash, E. E. Cummings, or Shakespeare?

Although his name is not a household item yet (emphasis on yet), I'd like to recommend you take a look at the work of my friend, Dr. Richard Berlin (www.richardmberlin.com). A psychiatrist, teacher of medical students, and gifted writer, his work reveals the heart of the healer better than any I've ever read (William Carlos Williams just rolled over in his grave). Here's what I mean:

If You Ask Me My Name

I will say healer, priest,
turner of textbook pages,
searcher, listener, arrogant crow
costumed in white, reflecting moon,
My name is scared and foolish
and sometimes too tired to care.
I am death's reluctant lover,
a child's guide, mother, father,
hero and fool,
and if you like it simple,
doctor will do.


Poetry is about soul and poets reveal not only their own but ours as well. They open themselves to vulnerability and by exploring their internal world, we have the chance to come away seeing ourselves differently and anew. We need this from time to time; it's good for us and you know the best thing about it? You don't even need a prescription.


(Poem from How JFK Killed My Father by Richard M. Berlin; image via Wikipedia)

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