Rafael Campo is the editor of the Poetry Section of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
No, that’s not a misprint. JAMA is mainly known for publishing articles on medical news, clinical trials, and research, but the pages of each issue also contain poems submitted by medical workers, as well as patients and their families.
It may seem like a strange place for poetry, but Campo doesn’t see it that way at all. In a recent interview, he points out that poetry is an excellent way for many people to express their feelings about issues like dealing with a chronic illness, loss, or caretaking. Writing allows them to work through their feelings and experiences and come out with a sense of empowerment.
A doctor as well as a published poet, Campo is the perfect example of this marriage of literature and medicine. Among its other benefits, he finds that poetic language often creates powerful connections between doctors and their patients. For instance, if a patient describes their symptoms in a vivid way, it gives Campo a unique, more precise insight into how they feel.
Read on to learn more about the surprising way poetry complements medicine.