Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine

Book Pages: 88 Illustrations: Published: November 2013

Author: Rafael Campo

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry, Medicine and Health > Medical Humanities

In his sixth collection of poetry, the celebrated poet-physician Rafael Campo examines the primal relationship between language, empathy, and healing. As masterfully crafted as they are viscerally powerful, these poems propose voice itself as a kind of therapeutic medium. For all that most ails us, Alternative Medicine offers the balm of song and the salve of the imagination: from the wounds of our stubborn differences of identity, to the pain of alienation in a world of unfeeling technologies, to the shame of the persistent injustices in our society, Campo's poetry displays a deep understanding of hurt as the possibility for healing. Demonstrating an abiding faith in our survival, this stunning, heartfelt book ultimately embraces the great diversity of our ways of knowing and dreaming, of needing and loving, and of living and dying.


“In a style both precise and emotional, playful and earnest, Campo delivers a most extraordinary message: that in writing, in seeing, in remembering, and in being, we embody, simultaneously, the ache as well as the cure.” — Briana Shemroske, Booklist

“I’ve rarely heard someone describe his or her doctor as “accessible.’ Rafael Campo’s poetry has always been unapologetically so, but his formal decorum (from décor: ‘beauty, grace’) makes for poems that are both objects of deep contemplation and acts of open-hearted expression.  In a word, art.” — Steven Cramer, Arnold P. Gold Foundation blog

"These poems are thoughtful, grounded, elegant and free of B.S. If only more doctors, preachers and writers were willing to do this in the midst of teaching and healing: to listen, and to speak the truth even when that means admitting the truth is not fully to be had, at least not yet." — Seminary Ridge Review

“Dr. Rafael Campo's poems are precise and incisive. You measure their beats as if listening through a stethoscope. You feel the scalpel cut through to your soul--eschewing anesthesia because you want to be awake and alert for Campo's kind of surgical intervention. He slices through the facade of your life to pull back layers of skin and mores to the core mystery of the purpose of your body.” — Tom Lombardo, Canadian Medical Association Journal

“Rafael Campo’s Alternative Medicine is indeed what this doctor orders. And it is alternative: to the tunnel vision, where-did-the-day-go, mind numbing way I, and I daresay many of us, frequently pass time. Take a swig or a nibble, hold the poet’s hand, meet a new universe.” — Audrey Shafer, Journal of Medical Humanities

Alternative Medicine is a stunning and valuable tribute to humanitarian love as the one necessary constant in a chaotic world where suffering is all too real. These wise and humane poems are therapeutic and generous. As such, they are essential reading for anyone who feels not only compassion for those who suffer but also believes it is our duty to live a life in the service of humanity.” — Sonja James, The Journal (Martinsburg, WV)

"Alternative Medicine (a wonderful euphemism for poetry) is an extraordinarily powerful and moving book—especially its central poems about doctoring, about the sadness and helplessness of being a doctor. Only someone who has actually lived these poems could have written them. Rafael Campo is that rare poet. This book makes art out of the pain and blood of experience." — Lloyd Schwartz, poet and Frederick S. Troy Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"Rafael Campo is an extraordinarily skillful poet: his technique manifests itself in the range of forms he so brilliantly masters. But he is also a poet of gravity and poignant observation. Unlike so many people writing today, he has subjects, passions, and themes that are profoundly important." — Sandra M. Gilbert, poet and Distinguished Professor of English Emerita, University of California, Davis


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Price: $21.95

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Rafael Campo teaches and practices general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He is also on the faculty of the Lesley University MFA Program in Creative Writing. Campo is the author of The Enemy, Landscape with Human Figure, Diva, and What the Body Told, all published by Duke University Press. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the Gold Medal in Poetry from ForeWord, the Paterson Poetry Prize, two Lambda Literary Awards, and a National Book Critics Circle Award nomination. Campo's poetry has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The Nation, The New Republic, Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Progressive,, Yale Review, and The Threepenny Review.

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