Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland
The Bella Mabury & Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities,
The Melvin and Bill Lane Professor
for the Director of Creative Writing
Dept. of Creative Writing, Stanford University

The Science of Curing & The Art of Healing:
A Poet's Experience

The 13th Annual Jonathan J. King Lectureship
Fairchild Auditorium, Stanford University Medical Center
Wednesday, February 11, 2004, 5 pm-6:10 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Preface: The Jonathan J. King Lectureship was established in 1991 to encourage the compassionate and humane care of all patients. A gifted computer scientist by profession and a philosopher by inclination, Dr. King was above all a humanist with a deep concern for the dignity of individuals. Three weeks before dying from cancer at age 41 on April 8, 1991, Dr. King defined key messages he wished to bring to the medical community through the lecture series. He hoped that the lectureship would communicate the need to empathize with patients and the need to provide the patients with hope, a measure of control, comfort and physical support— including the need to hasten attempts to apply promising but unproven treatments for patients diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. A short 5 minute video of Jonathan King was shown describing his vision for patient care. Then Prof. David ? introduced Eavan Boland as the author of eight books of poetry and the 13th Annual Jonathan King Lecturer.

Eavan Boland concluded her lecture with her poem "Tree of Life"

POEM: by Eavan Boland specially composed for the
National Maternity Hospital remembrance service in November 1994

Tree of Life

A tree on a moonless night
has no sap or colour.

It has no flower and no fruit.
It waits for the sun to find them.
I cannot find you
in this dark hour
dear child

for dawn
to make us clear to one another.

Let the sun
inch above the rooftops.

Let love be the light that shows again
the blossom to the root.

Q & A Session:

Q: Is there any current poetry activities at the Stanford Hospital?
A: I don't know. I recall Adrienne Rich did some poetry here.

Q: What was it like for the group listening to each other?
A: The main thing of the group was people helping each other with their grief.

Q: What's the goal of religious attitudes of the griefing parents?
A: Some parents believed they could pray. There was no religious preferences.
    There was a Muslim in the group.

Q: What was the time period of the parents who had lost a baby in the group?
A: Some had miscarriages for four weeks, some came after 2 days.

Q: How was it for you emotionally to be in the group?
A: My grief can't compare with the parents. I was honored to be there.

Q: Where can we find your "Tree of Life" poem?
A: It's in The Lost Land [Norton, 1998]
    [Stanford Library: PR6052.035.L67.1998; Cited by Archdiocese of Dublin]

Q: Did the group do any writing during their meetings?
A: Some wrote, some didn't. The power of loss, the humanity which the parents
    spoke for their dead babies were quite moving.

Q: Is the opportunity to bring one's dead baby home still ongoing?
A: Some parents accepted the offer. I'm sure it's still ongoing.

The Q & A Session ended at 6:10 pm. A reception was held in the lobby of Fairchild Auditorium.


Books by Eavan Boland: (at Amazon.com)

Against Love Poetry: Poems
Norton, New York (2001)
The Lost Land
Norton, New York (1998)
An Origin Like Water
Norton, New York (1996)
In a Time of Violence
Norton, New York (1994)
Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990
Norton, New York (1990)
Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time
Norton, New York (1996)

Web Links to Eavan Boland
Eavan Boland: Department of Creative Writing, Stanford University
  (The Melvin and Bill Lane Professor for the Director of Creative Writing)
Eavan Boland: The Academy of American Poets
  (Short Biography, Poems, Interviews, Links)
Norton Poets Online: Eavan Boland
  (Sample Poems from Boland Books, Audio, Interviews, Prose, Anthology)
'She Was Radical and She Was Right' [Eavan Boland's poetry]
  (By Diane Rogers, Stanford Magazine, May/June 2002)
'Against Love Poetry': Map of Love [Eavan Boland's Against Love Poetry]
  (By MELANIE REHAK, New York Times, Nov. 4, 2001)
The Stoicisms of Love
  (Interview by Alice Quinn, New Yorker, October 29, 2001)
Caffeine Destiny Interview with (October 2001)
  (Talk about her new book Against Love Poetry)
Against Love Poetry by Eavan Boland
  (Poet's Workshop, September 2001)
Where Poetry Begins: An Interview with Eavan Boland
  (By Elizabeth Schmidt, Spring 1997 issue of American Poet)
Daughters: A Poetry Exhibit
  (Curated by Eavan Boland, 1997)
The Delirium of the Brave (Review of Boland's In a Time of Violence)
  (By Denis Donoghue, New York Review of Books, May 26, 1994)
Eavan Boland (English Department, Emory University
  (Bio, Works, Articles, Related Sites)
Poem: Quarantine
  (from Eavan Boland's Against Love Poetry, 2001)
Poem Read by the Author: The Colonists (with Audio)
  (Eavan Boland, Slate, March 25, 1999)
Poem: Colony
  (from Eavan Boland's The Lost Land, 1998)
Poem: That the Science of Cartography Is Limited (with Audio)
  (from Eavan Boland's In a Time of Violence, 1994)
Poem: A Woman Painted on a Leaf
  (Eavan Boland, Readings in Contemporary Poetry)
Poem: Mise Éire
  (Eavan Boland, Journal of Women's History, Winter 1995)
InfoPlease Bio: Eavan Boland
  (poet, born 9/24/44, Dublin, Ireland)
Eavan Boland reads Denise Levertov's poem "Celebration"
  at John L. Hennessy's Inauguration as Stanford's President
  (Stanford Report, October 25, 2000)

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter@wisdomportal.com (2-11-2004)