25 years of era poetry

Twenty-fifth anniversary

Question and Answer

Richard Berlin, MD, has been writing a monthly poem for psychic times™ for 25 years. In celebration, Dr. Berlin and I sat down to ask about the past quarter century filled with poetry and creativity.

PT: The year 2023 marks 25 years of era poetry. When you started, did you ever expect this kind of extended relationship?

Berlin: I was hoping for an extended relationship, but I never imagined 25! At that time, I was middle-aged and middle-aged. I had published 60 scientific papers, edited a book on sleep disorders, and developed a good sense of how medical publishing works. Few of my poems have been published, though sending, tracking, getting rejections, and sending poems back again has been a frustrating effort. I was glad I had a good day job! At the same time, psychic times™ was a young, dynamic publication that was open to many interesting new voices (Ron Pace, Peter Kramer, Sue Chance, Paul Genova, and others). I imagined that most of the poems I was writing dealt with medical/psychological topics psychic times™ as the perfect home for them. Then I had the idea to write a poem each month to complement the issue’s particular theme (depression, anxiety, suicide, geriatrics, etc.). I collected a collection of sample poems, an episodic letter, sent the package to the editor, and was thrilled when Kristin Potvin and Jonathan Schwartz answered “Yes”!

Of course, saying “yes” created a new set of concerns: “What would it be like to reveal myself through poetry to more than 40,000 colleagues each month? How would they ‘analyse’ me? What about the stress of setting a monthly deadline?” psychic times™ readers have continued to be a responsive and supportive audience, and my medical/psychiatric career has provided an endless amount of inspiration. Twenty-five years and 300 poems later, I cannot imagine a more perfect home for my poetry.

PT: Do you have a favorite poem that was featured in psychic times?

Berlin: It’s a Tie for First Place: Two Love Poems for My Wife: “The happiest moment for Einstein” And “Our medical marriage. “

PT: What is your favorite poem by another writer?

Berlin:Poetry,Posted by Pablo Neruda, which ends like this:

“…and I, infinitesimal being,
Drunk with the great stars
Empty,
picture
mystery,
I felt like a pure part of myself
abyss,
wandered with the stars,
My heart exploded with the wind.”

BT: How do you think poetry and medicine overlap? Does being a poet affect your practice?

Berlin: Poetry and medicine definitely overlap.

Famous physician and poet William Carlos Williams said, “When, of late, they have often asked me, how for so many years have I kept an equal interest in medicine and the poem, I answer that they amount for me to nearly the same thing.”

I have come to experience medical practice the way Pablo Neruda experienced poetry: a field that includes, “Decisions of touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, lust for justice, sexual desire, sound of the ocean, nothing is deliberately excluded, nothing is deliberately accepted.” , getting into the depths of things in an act of reckless love … “

And yes, being a poet has a huge impact on my psychiatric practice, and psychiatry has had a huge impact on writing poetry, especially my experience providing psychotherapy, where it is very important to pay attention to flow, to allow themes to develop, and not to interrupt the process too quickly. For example, when I first started writing, my father suddenly became present in the poems; I was writing a few lines about something random, like playing little baseball, and lo and behold, he’s sitting in the stands! But I knew from my psychotherapy practice that I should let the words unfold and not self-censor. As a psychotherapist, creating metaphors like a poet is a powerful way to reframe a patient’s mood, behavior, or life story.

BTC: If you could go back 25 years and give yourself some advice, what would you say?

Berlin: I used to advise myself to start writing poetry when I was younger! Since this is not advice I can follow, I created the “Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award” at the UMass Chan School of Medicine to encourage people at all levels of medical and nursing training to write creatively. The award is named in honor of my father and is now in its nineteenth year.

B.Tech: Do you have advice for other writers/doctors?

Berlin: As physicians, we know the discipline of hard work, study, and practice. If you want to advance your craft as a poet or writer, the same core values ​​are equally helpful.

Being in a writing group can be an excellent source of support and education. As you develop your craft, enlisting the wisdom of an experienced poet/writer/teacher/editor can help you take your work to the next level. We all need a trusted person who can praise and critique our work in ways that teach us how to improve our writing.

I would also urge writer/doctors to follow Stephen King’s exhortation to “read a lot, write a lot”; And follow Anne Lamott’s advice: “Put your butt in the chair every day for 45 minutes and write a bad draft.” Because writing only happens when you write, but not when you think about writing.

There are many great poetry writing guides out there. My favorite The art and craft of poetry Written by Michael J. Bogiga, who will guide you through the steps to creating poems in every form from sonnets to free verse to pantomimes.

Dr. Berlin He has been writing a poem about his experience as a doctor every month for the past twenty-five years at the University of Michigan Psychiatric Times™ In a column titled “Poetry of the Age”. He is an Instructor of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical College, Worcester, MA. His latest book is Freud on my couch.

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