“Given CKP’s commitment to bring poetry to people where they live, work and receive services and Gold’s commitment to humanistic patient care, there seemed no more underserved a community than the many thousands of patients held captive waiting for medical services.”
Like most people, I’ve spent more than my share of hours in waiting rooms—those barren, dreary places –and often wondered why there seemed to be no attempt to make them more patient friendly and hospitable (forgive the pun). So I am thrilled to introduce The Waiting Room Reader, Vol II: Words to Keep You Company, a book of poems and stories published by CavanKerry Press and co-sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine and distributed free to hospital waiting rooms.
Long time friends, Sandra Gold, Founder and former Gold Foundation President, and I met as mothers of young violinists in music school and have remained staunch supporters of each other’s work since then. Several years ago, I proposed that CKP and Gold join forces and work together on a new imprint that would focus on the Literature of Illness and Disability. Given Gold Foundations’ concern with the education of young doctors in the practice of humanistic medicine and CKP’s interest in a literature of the body and mind that included illness and disability, the marriage seemed natural. In addition to appealing to a general readership -for illness is a reality in all of our lives- CavanKerry’s new imprint, Laurel Books, would serve as clinical ‘tools’ to teach young doctors and medical students the ‘lived’ experience of illness, thereby encouraging greater empathy in them. Literature would do its original work–unveiling and unlayering the authentic experience of the life lived. To date, eight Laurel Books have been published, gifted and their authors brought to medical students across NY and NJ. Topics include childhood leukemia, bone marrow transplant, lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, suicide, schizophrenia, cerebral hemorrhage, and Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Fast forward several years and Sandra and I are still tossing ideas back and forth and a dream is born of a book designed for patients waiting in doctors and hospital waiting rooms. Both committed to patient care –physical and psychological, Sandra and I were/are keenly aware of the long hours patients spend in waiting rooms—be it for routine or critical care– with nothing to keep them company but the local daily newspaper or People, Us and Golf Magazines. Given CKP’s commitment to bring poetry to people where they live, work and receive services and Gold’s commitment to humanistic patient care, there seemed no more underserved a community than the many thousands of patients held captive waiting for medical services. Waiting leads to impatience, anxiety and loneliness and the need for solace and companionship. Once again, the natural choice was literature: a book filled with finely written and accessible poetry and prose that focused on life gifts that would hopefully ease the stress of waiting and remind the patient that he/she is not alone. The title would be The Waiting Room Reader: Stories to Keep You Company.
The response was overwhelming. 9500 copies of the The Waiting Room Reader Volume I were distributed to hospitals across NJ and a few select hospitals in NY. Fast forward to February, 2013. We are thrilled to celebrate the publication of the second volume, guest edited by renowned poet, essayist and memoirist Rachel Hadas. This second volume will broaden the reader’s reach to include hospitals throughout New Jersey, New York City and state, then hopefully Pennsylvania and Connecticut. CKP and Gold Foundation thank you for helping us do this important work. Our dream is to someday distribute The Waiting Room Reader nationwide. Hundreds of thousands of patient readers are waiting. All need The Reader’s healing.
Please join us for a reception and Celebrity Benefit Reading to celebrate the publication of The Waiting Room Reader II: Words to Keep You Company on Sunday, February 10, from 5-8 pm at (le) poisson rouge. Full details can be found here.