poetry therapy
What is Poetic Medicine?

Poetry is natural medicine, it is like a homeopathic tincture derived from the stuff of life itself--your experience. Poems distill experience into the essentials. Our personal experiences touch the common ground we share with others. --Excerpt from Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making.

Poetic Medicine is a phrase that came out of a brainstorming session with my friend Beth Carmack.  Beth and I were thinking about titles for my book and this phrase, spoken by Beth as we free associated, resonated for both of us.

A few years later, there was further affirmation of this descriptive term.  While visiting the sacred ground of Canyon de Chelly, a Navajo friend, Lupita McClanahan, described me to others as “a medicine man.” 

What I can say is this:  since the age of twelve, poetry and the sharing of it, is the salve or my “medicine” of choice for the work I do in the world and the way I choose to live.

I chose to name the non-profit, The Institute for Poetic Medicine because we believe the word “Institute” can serve as a larger association for the healing work we do within the world.  The Institute’s activities include: teaching and research, individual growth and community formation.  We are especially committed to advancing positive institutional change in the medical and pastoral world.


Poetry as a tool, a net or trap to catch the present; a sharp edge; a medicine; or the little awl that unties knots.
--Gary Snyder


We are collectively dedicated to nurture and strengthen the human capacity to connect to Self, Other, Community, the Natural World and the Divine.

Using a wide-range of creative tools and techniques, we will show you how the reading, hearing and writing of poems can act as a healing catalyst. You will find that poetry can help you to express your unique story.

Poem-making is a way to reclaim your truth, your feelings, and your voice.  Through writing, you can become a voice for mending the world, a voice that is so called for at this time.  

No previous experience with poetry is required, only a desire to discover and explore a creative space. If you already write, we hope the work of the Institute for Poetic Medicine will inspire and support you on your journey.

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