Healing powers of artistic expression explored at Medical Humanities Conference

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO—An emergency room nurse and lifelong poet will be the keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Medical Humanities Conference at Western Michigan University.

Stacey R. Nigliazzo will speak at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in the Fetzer Center's Putney Auditorium. Her presentation, titled "The Necessary Tablet: The Healing Power of Creative Expression," is free and open to the public without conference registration. Most conference activities run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Sept. 24-25, in the Fetzer Center.

Stacey R. Nigliazzo

Nigliazzo's debut poetry collection, "Scissored Moon," was awarded first place in the 2014 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards in the public interest and creative works category. She was also short-listed as a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters First Book of Poetry/Bob Bush Award, the Julie Suk Poetry Prize, and the Marica and Jan Vilcek Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in JAMA, Thrush, Wyvern Lit, Chest, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, and The Examined Life Journal, among other publications. She is currently co-editing a Sable Books anthology addressing the subject of violence against women.

The idea of using artistic expression as a healing instrument is not a new concept. Those living with illness have long been encouraged to share their experiences through pictures and words. The benefits of doing so are largely accepted and unquestioned and, in fact, many acclaimed poems, books and works of art throughout history are a testament to human suffering.

Those who provide care can also benefit from the creative process. There is a high price they pay for their daily work. Nigliazzo asserts that for health providers, healing comes in the form of a tablet. Electronic, leather-bound or loose-leaf, filled with words, drawings, or even music, a tablet can foster creativity and therapeutic expression for those on the frontlines of illness and recovery.

Other conference highlights

In addition to the Nigliazzo's address, the conference includes dozens of concurrent and plenary sessions, with presentations by scholars from across the nation addressing key human issues related to health and medicine.

The Thursday afternoon plenary keynote also is open to the public and will feature Wade L. Robison, the Ezra A. Hale Professor of Applied Ethics at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Of local interest, the Friday plenary speaker will be Rachel Chadderdon Bair, a Kalamazoo native recently hired by Kalamazoo Valley Community College as director of the new Sustainable and Innovative Food Systems program at the college's downtown campus.

The conference is sponsored by the WMU Medical Humanities Workgroup and co-sponsored by Office for Vice President of Research, Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, Center for the Humanities, Department of Philosophy and the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.

Registration is $115 for the general public or $65 for students and $155 for health care professionals seeking continuing education credits.

For more information or to register, visit wmich.edu/medicalhumanities/conference2015.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.