This remarkable collection of short writings, introduced by renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who visited the Sutterwriters (of Sutter Hospital in Sacramento, California) to offer a workshop, provides a broad, compassionate, imaginative window into the life inside and around an urban hospital. Patients, staff, and all interested in healing through writing are invited to come and participate-with an accent on the latter: no one is invited who isn't willing to write.

Chip Spann, the editor, came to Sutter Hospital with a Ph.D. in English, and has the privilege of coordinating this fluid community of writers as part of his work as a staffmember. His conviction, voiced in an engaging introduction, is that literature is a powerful instrument of healing--both the literature we read and the literature we create--and that the experience of literature belongs in community. The individual pieces are accompanied by photographs and short bios of contributors.


While there is some range in literary quality, on the whole this collection is useful, lively, readable, and a wonderful example of what can come of a commitment to write in community and for the good of each member and of the whole. The permission and encouragement given in writing sessions to experiment with form, to write out of the vulnerabilities of fear and pain, to let humor emerge, and to be radically personal, shows up in surprising ways in poems, in short-short prose pieces, in stories of several pages, in lists and testimonies, and "post cards" and eulogies and bits of memoir. Taken together they offer inspiration for anyone looking for ways to make life into art and, doing so, to let art be an agent of healing.


The book can be ordered at: (select "Books").


Sutter's LAMP (Literature, Arts, and Medicine Program)

Place Published

Sacramento, Calif.




Chip Spann & Jan Haag

Page Count