Dr. Jerald Winakur


— Advance Praise

“Jerald Winakur’s Human Voices Wake Us carries the reader into that deep place where poetry and medicine intersect and generate healing. His poems celebrate beauty in the natural world, not in abstract terms but in its particularity, in bluegills, dragonflies, dust devils, and prickly pear. They celebrate the wisdom of story, as when a student asks him, ‘Are butterflies birds?’ Or when he tells the story of Mick and the hamburger. And they celebrate the practice of medicine in all its sorrows and joys, but especially compassionate solidarity with patients. In ‘This Sadness,’ a poem about cancer, Dr. Winakur writes, ‘this sadness / does not speak the language.’ But this poet-physician does speak the language, the language of healing through poetry. A marvelous collection!”

—Jack Coulehan, M.D., author of The Wound Dresser

“Jerald Winakur’s Human Voices Wake Us is more than a collection of exquisitely crafted poems. There is such poignancy here, such humility, such a keen, painful awareness of the fleetingness of our little lives, of the agonizing drifts and decisions facing us as we age, that it is impossible to put this book down. Winakur’s poems are wide open to anguish and joy—especially the small but intense joys we can find in great blue herons, forsythia, dogwoods, redbuds, owlet moths, wheatgrass, little bluestem, tall fescue, and maidencane. As he says in ‘A Denunciation of Quarks,’ ‘I am no longer certain what matters, want / only to touch the thing itself for once.’ And touch the things of this living world Winakur does, with vividness and care, even as we mourn the limitations of our little lives. ‘I have done the best I could,’ laments Winakur in ‘Out of Practice,’ and these poems certainly convince us that before retiring as a physician, Winakur did more than his best. If only we could have been fortunate enough to have been one of his patients. But how lucky we are to have these poems that, even as they mourn the limitations of the best medical practices and the often humiliating and agonizing realities of our aging, offer us medical advice for all our lives, to live wide awake to the sensory joys that continually surround us.”

—Wendy Barker, author of One Blackbird at a Time

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