the Healing Muse

The Healing Muse is the annual journal of literary and visual art published by SUNY Upstate Medical University's Center for Bioethics & Humanities. We welcome fiction, poetry, narratives, essays, memoirs and visual art, particularly but not exclusively focusing on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing.

The Healing Muse 14

Excerpts from the Editor's Note Page 2014

     The book you hold represents the work and dreams and sometimes nightmares of Muse 14’s talented writers and artists. During our submission period, we read and re-read with delight; I often find notes from the staff on various pieces: “loved it,” “could not stop reading,” “such a different take on this one.” The great strength of The Healing Muse is that subject matter and style coalesce in a paradox: while each piece is unique, each one reaffirms the universality of our shared journey through this temporal world of health, illness, and everything in-between.


     In this issue, you will meet many people. Character may not be destiny, but character definitely shapes how we face it. These pages contain a parent’s greatest fear—the loss of a child—while other adults find themselves confronting the ghosts of their own childhoods as they help their parents face mortality. We meet physicians and nurses who, despite ever-increasing demands on their time from the bureaucracy, retain at their core the sense of vocation that called them to serve others and relieve suffering. We meet patients for whom the health care system is not working, who learn to navigate and negotiate with skill and cunning. We come to know the caregivers, those family and friends who sit patiently at bedside or waiting room, who shop and cook, who tell jokes or just listen and bear witness.

     Here is another paradox: the journal feels so light in my hands, yet it contains the weight of complex histories and the impossible questions they provoke. Why is this happening? Who are we now after this experience? How can we go on after such alteration or loss? Science and medicine offer imperfect answers to these questions; our writers and our artists head down a different path. I am grateful to them for sharing their work; I am hoping that you too will be happy to follow them. They lead us to a universal and essential conclusion—we matter, each of us matters.

     We enter this world and learn too soon that we must leave it, but the beauty and the mystery of art can assure us that our presence will be noted and remembered, our absence mourned, our efforts celebrated. Muse 14 gives us the opportunity to find goodness and courage amid uncertainty and suffering. It reminds us that disease does not define us and that diagnosis is only a beginning. In these pages you will see how fellow travelers navigate these words and the realms they contain. I hope you will find their endeavors as exhilarating and affirming as we did.

Deirdre Neilen
Vol. 14, No. 1 (Fall) 2014

The Healing Muse celebrated its fourteenth anniversary publication launch on October 22, 2014. Many of the local writers from our 14th issue read and shared their stories with us.

Two of our authors could not attend and sent in videos of themselves reading their poems.

The first is Patsy Asuncion from Charlottesville, Virginia, reading her poems: emptying, and Bedside Lewey Body Litany.

Our second author is Vanessa Raney who is living in Croatia. She will read her poem If She Can Hear

To order our latest volume, visit our Support the Muse/Order Copies page.

Thank you for your support!

Poetry Month with Two-Bit Haiku April 2014

gumball machine
In celebration of National Poetry Month, The Healing Muse installed a poetry gumball machine last April on the 9th floor of Weiskotten Hall on the Upstate Medical University campus for the month of April. A mere quarter got you a poem from a recent issue of The Healing Muse.



This year we asked Upstate’s students, faculty, and staff, to write a haiku for the gumball machine. The response was overwhelming! All proceeds from the gumball machine will go to support Upstate's annual Dearing Writing Award for students.

A haiku from Laura Prestia, PhD Candidate 2014, Neuroscience Graduate Program celebrates this effort:

Gumball, gumball, yum!
A quarter you paid for one.
Gumballs? You got none!

SUNY Upstate Medical University's HealthLink On Air
Sundays on WRVO Public Media at 9 pm

Interviews with host Linda Cohen and Dr. Deirdre Neilen, Editor of The Healing Muse

Visit our Muse Media webpage for interviews and videos.

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Accepted annually September 1 through May 1.