CHICAGO – Internal medicine physician and award-winning poet Rafael Campo, M.D., who is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and practices at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, joined JAMA in January as the journal’s new poetry editor.
The author of nine books of poems and essays, Campo selects pieces for the popular JAMA Poetry and Medicine section, a weekly fixture in the journal for about 30 years.
Campo’s latest work, “Comfort Measures Only,” a collection of new and selected poems, was published this fall by Duke University Press. Campo’s first collection of poetry, “The Other Man Was Me,” was published in 1994, soon after he graduated from Harvard Medical School during his residency training at the University of California, San Francisco. He also holds a master’s degree in poetry from Boston University.
In his new role at JAMA, Campo is building on the excellence of the section by curating poems around specific themes, using commentary to introduce poems, and assembling a diverse collection of poets.
Expanding the variety of poetic voices in the journal, especially those of women and poets of color, “can really help us better understand and better grasp the challenges we face in trying to address health disparities,” Campo said.
The connection between poetry and medicine is an indelible one for Campo and he weaves poetry into medical education when he teaches student physicians.
“I can’t imagine the work of healing without the presence of poetry in my life and how it really brings, always to me, the reminder that we are equally our physical bodies as we are our stories. We are not just the sum of our data and our lab test results and our CT scan reports, we are human beings with a voice,” Campo said.
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