Johanna Shapiro PhD
Increasingly, medically-themed poetry by patients, physicians, and nurses has come to prominence and is published regularly in journals such as JAMA and the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In recognition of the value of poetry to the practice of medicine, the physician poet Raphael Campo observed that everything about being human can be found in poetry; and Jack Coulehan, another physician poet, once commented that poetry is all about self-awareness and healing. Andrei Novac, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine and Founding Director of the School’s Traumatic Stress Program, exemplifies this same breadth of spirit in his deeply humane collection of poems “Sparks.” The title refers to a Chassidic teaching that everything in life contains a latent spark of the divine, which reveals its meaning and purpose. Like embers from a fire, these sparks always have the potential to ascend toward fulfillment.