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The Poetry of Healing: A Doctor's Education in Empathy, Identity, and Desire
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The Poetry of Healing: A Doctor's Education in Empathy, Identity, and Desire

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  77 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
The healing powers of speech, of touch, of empathy and the erotic, of love itself - these are some of the themes of Rafael Campo's deeply humanistic work, as he writes not just of his attempts to heal, but of how his patients have healed him. Throughout, he uncovers the truths of his own passions and fears, of the tragic flaws in health care, and of his education and life ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I almost didn't read this book. I was expecting a discourse on the healing power of the creative arts as an alternative therapy in medicine. Campo may write about that elsewhere, but not here. If anything, the book concerns the power of poetry for the physician in need of healing.

Campo's book is part memoir, part polemic. Chiefly, it recounts his struggles to forge a single identiy as doctor, poet, Latino, and gay man. He articulates with considerable and painful clarity the many ways in which t
This was a powerful book that will have me reflecting for a long time. I heard Dr. Campo speak about his work and his poetry in October, and was impressed with his essential humanity. The book is unlike anything else I've read ... essays/personal reflections on the intersection of being a doctor, a poet, a gay man, a Latino, and working primarily with AIDS patients. The language is incredibly rich with unexpected metaphors and descriptors ... the mind behind the language is very aware of the str ...more
Jun 15, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A wonderfully lyrical, vulnerable memoir of identity, healing, and being a minority within a minority. Most doctor memoirs are about empowerment and the authors often write from the elevated position awarded to the physician, but I really respect that Rafael Campo, in his beautiful, rushing way, isn't afraid to come down to the patient level. He writes from the perspective of a human being, rather than a capital M, capital D. Sidenote: This is a truly terrible book title. I almost didn't read it ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any pre-med college student
Very emotional, very powerful for those who are interested in medicine and healing, but language sometimes over the top. Intriguing goal, to blend poetry with a book about doctoring, to describe doctor-patient relationships poetically. Kudos for trying something new! Too many doctors' memoirs are all about ego, and written by people who can't write well. Not so with Campo.
Jan 22, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
First of my "finish the books I've already started" project. It took me a long time to read this book - I think I got it about two years ago. The language and flow is beautiful but for some reason (that I can't quite put a finger on) it never pulled me in.
Jul 10, 2007 Erqi rated it liked it
lyrical and intelligent...unlike the dull trite accounts written by most doctors
Sep 13, 2009 Nina rated it it was amazing
Through a series of essays, Campo explores his medical training and residency during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. He shares his thoughts on the intersection of medicine and poetry.
Louie Hernandez
Apr 28, 2014 Louie Hernandez rated it it was amazing
I would definitely recommend it to all physicians who are trying to change the world, one patient at a time. :)
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Rafael Campo was born in Dover, New Jersey, in 1964. He attended both Amherst College and Harvard Medical School before publishing his first collection of poems, The Other Man Was Me: A Voyage to the New World, which won the National Poetry Series Open Competition in 1993.
His books include The Enemy, from Duke University Press; Landscape with Human Figure (Duke University Press, 2002); Diva (1999)
More about Rafael Campo...

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