Psychiatric TimesTM columnist Richard M. Berlin, MD, reflects on Dorianne Laux’s saying—that any good poem reminds us simply to slow down. On this Valentine’s Day, we invite you to do just that by enjoying this collection from his Any Good Poem video series.
Dr Berlin shares a sonnet celebrating love by Ricardo EliécerNeftalí Reyes Basoalto, better known as Pablo Neruda. In America, Neruda is best known for his love poems. In addition to his life in poetry, Neruda was a politician and diplomat. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Neruda died 2 years later from prostate cancer at the age of 69.
Naomi Shihab Nye is known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people, and objects, explains Dr Berlin. Nye is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her prolific work. From 2010 to 2015 she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate.
“A Poem for Pulse” was written in response to the events at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed and many others injured, Dr Berlin notes. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States (and the nation’s worst terror attack) since 9/11. In the poem, Jameson Fitzpatrick illuminates the power of love in the face of violence and hatred. The poem was originally published in Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence.
Craig Santos Perez is a poet, essayist, university professor, and publisher, Dr Berlin explains. Born on Guam Island in 1980, he is a descendent of the Chamorro people. His poetry has received multiple awards, including a 2015 American Book Award and the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. This poem highlights his sense of humor, as he brings magic to the last lines, “so close that your emissions of carbon are mine, so close your sea rises with my heat.”
Wrapping up the collection, we return to psychiatry. Dr Berlin notes: “One of the many things I love about psychiatry is our ongoing focus on the doctor-patient relationship. So when a farmer friend told me his beautiful story about fences he referred to as ‘tender’ because they weren’t too sturdy, my 2 immediate responses were: ‘tender fences’ would be a great idea for a model the doctor-patient relationship; and second, his story needs to become a poem.”