The Waiting Room Reader
Words to Keep You Company
In 2009, CavanKerry Press, in association with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine published THE WAITING ROOM READER, an anthology of poems meant to entertain and inspire patients and visitors in medical waiting rooms. To this end, more than 10,000 copies have been distributed to hospitals and physicians’ offices. Building on the success of this unique project, CavanKerry and The Gold Foundation team up once again for THE WAITING ROOM READER, Volume II (CavanKerry Press; January 2013; $18.00), compiled by guest editor Rachel Hadas.
“When I think of people in waiting rooms, including myself, I picture us rifling restlessly through battered magazines,” writes Hadas, an award winning poet, professor, essayist, and translator. “No doubt the image is out of date; these days, we’re more likely to be texting or talking on cell phones or playing solitaire on some tiny device. No matter: the nervous impatience of the mood in that room doesn’t change…our minds are busily engaged in a dance of avoidance and dread. It’s hard to focus on anything….Paying attention to one particular thing rather than flipping pages or scrolling text prevents us from being distracted and thus, paradoxically, can successfully distract us—can move our minds, if only briefly, from the claustrophobic space and the repetitive scenarios in which we may feel trapped.”
The sixty-three poems and fourteen prose pieces in THE WAITING ROOM READER, Volume II, are not meant to uplift or console, but to engage. Hadas sought writing that is an act of reclamation, rooted in themes that poets (and readers) have always visited: memory, family, love, loss, nature. There is work by well-established writers, such as Maxine Kumin, Molly Peacock, Rosanna Warren, and Reeve Lindbergh, as well as many rising talents, and also fresh writing from students pressed against the starting blocks of their careers. Contributors include writers who are also doctors, teachers, have worked on Wall Street or as corporate counsel—many walks of life, as befits the universality of the experience.
“Patients and their families will discover an unexpected blessing in this collection of poems and short prose,” says Jack Coulehand, M.D., author of Medicine Stone and Bursting With Danger and Music. “The poems are warm and inviting. They sparkle with wisdom. The stories are little gems of insight and humor. The most beautiful thing about THE WAITING ROOM READER is its respectfulness. Medical waiting rooms are fraught with uncertainty, fear, fatigue, boredom, discomfort, and suffering. This unobtrusive collection acknowledges these feelings, while respectfully nudging the reader toward a poem or story that might well offer a moment of relief and, hopefully, leave the reader with a small dose of healing.”
About Rachel Hadas
Rachel Hadas studied classics at Harvard, poetry at Johns Hopkins, and comparative literature at Princeton. Between college and graduate school she spent four years in Greece, an experience that surfaces variously in much of her work. Since 1981 she has taught in the English Department of the Newark (NJ) campus of Rutgers University, and has also taught courses in literature and writing at Columbia and Princeton, as well as serving on the poetry faculty of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the West Chester Poetry Conference. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant in poetry, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She teaches in the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia Medical School.
She is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and translations, including the poetry collection The Ache of Appetite (Copper Beech Press 2010), and the prose work Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia and Poetry (Paul Dry Books 2011). Her newest book of poems The Golden Road was published by Northwestern University Press in the fall of 2012.