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Vanderbilt ‘poets who heal’ to read at Williamson County Library

Apr. 4, 2016, 10:18 AM

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Brenda Butka (Vanderbilt University)

Four “poets who heal” will read from their works April 19 at the Williamson County Public Library as part of the Vanderbilt University Lectures in the Library series.

Brenda Butka, Doug Hester, Bruce Jennings and Julie Sumner are the presenters for “Alternative Medicine: Poets Who Heal,” scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Butka is an associate professor of clinical medicine who practices pulmonary medicine at Vanderbilt. She has been writing poetry since childhood and her poems have been published in The Threepenny Review, Slant, The Florida Review, The Cortland Review, Cleaver, JAMA, Chest and other journals. She thinks poetry should identify the heroic in the everyday, and the everyday in the heroic.

Doug Hester (Vanderbilt University)
Doug Hester (Vanderbilt University)

Hester is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Vanderbilt who uses poetry partly to process the stresses of his job. While his academic work focuses on airway management and resident education, he is currently pursuing a master of fine arts at Murray State University. He has written poetry, fiction and essays about medicine, fatherhood and adoption. “An Intern’s Recollection of a Night at the VA, July 2004” appeared in the journal Chest. Hester’s work has also been published by The Examined Life Journal and Anesthesiology.

Jennings is an adjunct professor of health policy at Vanderbilt who has written for many years on ethics and health care. He is currently thinking about human dignity and care in the context of Alzheimer’s disease and is working on a new book to be called Dementia and the Human Good. In his poems he is exploring what he calls the “memorial personhood” of his father, who died of Alzheimer’s in 1991.

Sumner worked as a Vanderbilt nurse for 12 years in the intensive care units and the liver transplant service. In 2009, she began a private massage practice, and continues to volunteer at Siloam Family Health Center. Her poetry has been published in The Behemoth, Catapult, and House Organ, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center publication. She has published a chapbook, Flight Path, and is a member of the Humanities in Medicine Working Group at Vanderbilt.

For more information on this free program, email Lynn Maddox.

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