Poems to Live for Session 11: Wed 10 March 2021 - Illness as Inspiration. The Poetry of Medicine and Disease

Wednesday 10th March 2021 9pm UK time

Poems to Live for: Session 11

Illness as Inspiration: The Poetry of Medicine and Disease

Click here to register free on EventBrite

Hear the author Theodore Dalrymple in discussion with Hippocrates Initiative co-founder: poet and translator Professor Michael Hulse.

Many of us can name Henry Vaughan and William Carlos Williams as the pre-eminent doctor poets in English, others will know that John Keats studied medicine before devoting himself to poetry and that Walt Whitman volunteered as a nurse during the American Civil War, and some will be aware of the sufferings endured by a W. E. Henley or Alexander Pope. Fewer will know that the US psychiatrist Merrill Moore was very possibly the most prolific poet who has ever lived, or that Tennyson’s poem ‘In the Children’s Hospital’ was damned as “abominable” in the British Medical Journal.


Theodore Dalrymple has produced in Illness as Inspiration a highly instructive and entertaining overview of poetry written on medical subjects by poets eminent and obscure – some so obscure, in fact, that their names will almost certainly be new to even the most widely-read. A psychiatrist and prison doctor in his professional life, as well as long-serving columnist for The Spectator, Theodore Dalrymple is the acclaimed author of numerous books on travel, medical matters, and contemporary society and culture. Now, having read Abraham Coles’ 75-page poem The Microcosm so you don’t have to, he has written an informative, compassionate and beguiling companion to what happens when poetry and medicine meet. 

Click here to order a copy of Illness as Inspiration

For future sessions, we welcome suggestions of poems (out of copyright and not your own) you would like read or to read yourself. Please email us as soon as possible with your suggestions. We can’t promise to use all readings or suggestions but we shall use as many as possible.

It must not be your own AND must be out of copyright. 

For example for literary works:
UK copyright continues for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work [including translator] dies.*

For the UK, if  the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was created, although if it is made available to the public during that time, (by publication, authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.), then the duration will be 70 years from the end of the year that the work was first made available.

For the US, copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death [including translator]. 

For the US, in the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. S

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