Astonished Harvest, a poetry community at the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care & Bioethics, was founded by Richard Bronson, MD, Maria Basile, MD and Jack Coulehan, MD, three poet-physicians, at the beginning of the academic year 2009-2010. The name 'Astonished Harvest' is taken from a poem ('Transplant') by Dr. John Stone, both to honor his memory and as an expression of the aims of our program, designed to form a bridge between the community of health care professionals at Stony Brook University Medical Center and the community of health care 'receivers' (our patients). We have created a space to voice our thoughts, using the power of poetry, to explore the experience of illness and healing as a group and individually through monthly poetry workshops. These have been attended by medical doctors, nurses, medical students, undergraduate students, ethicists and other members of the faculty of the Center. We have also reached out to the broader community outside of the Medical Center, welcoming poets to join us, and in hosting readings at the Emma Clark Memorial Library and at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.
The poets within our group have also played a role in creating awareness amongst medical students through interactive lectures and electives in poetry & medicine of the value of poetry in promoting the skills of observation, introspection & reflective practice, and communication that are critical to compassionate medical care. These electives have helped students discover a path to mindfulness and a way to deepen their own appreciation of the practice of medicine, as well as the experience of illness and patienthood, through writing poetry. Students may also explore the role of poetry in medicine in greater depth, as part of a program leading to an M.D. with distinction in the humanities.
A place to share your thoughts, to listen, to hone your skills. Are there things you’d like to say, feelings to express? We are a group composed of anyone – student, staff, faculty, or friend – interested in the interface of poetry and medicine, within or outside of the Health Sciences Center. Join us at 5:30 PM on the fourth Monday of each month (or the third Monday when holidays interfere). While we met regularly at Setauket Neighborhood House in the past and hope to return, during the current COVID pandemic, we are meeting on Zoom.
We’d like to hear from you. Please email us at Richard.Bronson@stonybrookmedicine.edu, if you plan to attend the workshop. Give us your thoughts.
“…and then the shock, the charmed expectant start,
the last astonished harvest of the heart.”
from Transplant, John Stone, 1998
External Poetry Competitions