Jack Coulehan’s fourth poetry collection brings together new and previously published poems in a well-organized and handsome volume. As a reader who has long followed this author’s career, I found some of my favorite poems here (Irene, "Lima Beans," "For Oysters Only," "Six Prescriptions," "Sir William Osler Remembers His Call on Walt Whitman," "Cholera," and Medicine Stone) as well as compelling newer work: "The Shoe," "Work Rounds: On Lines by Tomas Transtromer," "Definitions," and "Decatur in Winter."

The collection is divided into three sections: the first presents poems about "doctoring" and, a Coulehan trademark, poems from a patient’s point of view; the second is a remarkable assembly of Coulehan’s poetic commentaries on Chekhov’s life and writing; the third features poems about a variety of personal relationships.


As always, Coulehan’s focus is story--what happens, on all levels, when two lives intersect. Letting readers stand alongside, he confronts a variety of patients, illnesses, and family situations, always reflecting on how his twin roles, physician and poet, intersect. Such interactions, in this poet’s hands, often involves tenderness, humor, and irony.

This collection is tailor-made for use in teaching literature and medicine courses, especially the second section--but there isn’t a poem in this book that wouldn’t serve to inspire medical students to, as the poet says, "feel the pull / of healing, skin to skin" ("My Machine").


Jack Coulehan is also the co-editor of the anthology, Blood and Bone: Poems by Physicians.


Fithian Press

Place Published

Santa Barbara



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