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Interfacing: Poetry, Mental Illness & Mental Health with Owen Lewis, M.D., Richard Berlin, M.D., Patty Crane, R.N., Hannah Fries Moderator: Kate Daniels co-presented with The Austen Riggs Center

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Freud reputedly said, “Wherever I go I find a poet’s been there before.”

Poets are known for the clarity of their understanding of what it means to be human. They, too, often live at the boundaries of “normalcy.”

In this symposium four Berkshire poets will share reflections on this interface, both as poets and individuals who have worked in the mental health or medical fields. Topics to be explored: does poetry help understand the relation between mental health and illness; specific poems that clarify mental health issues; the role of poetry in psychotherapy, mindfulness, and mental health; insights from these poet’s writing practices. The poets will also be reading from their works.

Owen Lewis, a practicing psychiatrist, faculty of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Vagelos Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is the author of three volumes of poetry (Field Light, Marriage Map, Sometimes Full of Daylight). Among his awards, he received the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize from the New England Poetry Club. He lives in Stockbridge.

Richard Berlin, a practicing psychiatry, faculty of the Univ of Mass. Medical School. He is the author of four volumes of poetry (Secret Wounds, How JFK Killed My Father, Practice, and Freud on My Couch) as well as Poets on Prozac: Mental Illness, Treatment, and the Creative Process. He received the Pearl Poetry prize and the John Ciardi Poetry Prize. He lives in Richmond.

Hannah Fries is the author of the poetry collection Little Terrarium. Her second book, Forest Bathing Retreat (soon coming out in a new edition titled Being with Trees), explores the intersection of mindfulness and connection to the natural world through meditations and a selection of poems and readings. She is an acquisitions editor for Storey Publishing and lives in Sandisfield with her family.

Patty Crane authored the poetry collections Bell I Wake To and something flown, as well as Bright Scythe, her translations of Swedish Nobel laureate, psychologist and poet Tomas Tranströmer. Her work has been supported by MacDowell fellowships, and she holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Patty worked for decades as a registered nurse, and currently heads a community-building non-profit. She lives in Windsor.

Kate Daniels is the author of six collections of poetry, and Professor of English Emerita at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She has a particular interest in connections between psychoanalysis and poetry, and teaches writing in the New Directions program of the Washington-Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. Her prose work, Slow Fuse of the Possible: A Memoir of Poetry and Psychoanalysis, was published earlier this month. She is on the editorial board of ROOM: A Sketchbook for Analytic Action.