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Professor publishes poetry book

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Dr. Aaron M. McGuffin is a man of many hats.

He's the Senior Associate Dean of Medical Student Education at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. He's also the Program Director of Medicine at the Pediatrics Residency Program and an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. On top of all that he's also a poet. McGuffin has written a new book of poems called "Common Illness." The book is published by Wentworth & Collins.

"Medical poetry is a niche that has been around for many years," McGuffin said. "People will recognize Dr. William Carlos Williams as one of the most popular doctor/poets. He was physician who would see patients during the day and write poems in the evening. Many medical journals including JAMA publish poetry. There are several volumes of work just by physicians, and there are physicians like myself who have published their own material.

"This is free form poetry," he added. "There are a few structured poems, but the vast majority is free verse. There is a lot of poetic nuances in there and near rhymes that are played with. These poems are predominantly infused with imagery from medical practice. I also have several deeply personal pieces in there. I think most physicians would agree that you don't separate your professional and personal life tremendously. Things that happen in your life affect your ability to take care of patients both positively and hopefully minimally in a negative fashion."

The book's poems are divided into six sections all based on different periods of life: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adult, adult and aged. The subjects range from diseases, to periods of life, to facts of life like pregnancy.

McGuffin hopes the poems will help readers develop a better view of how physicians see various periods of life. A handful of poems were written by McGuffin in elementary school and there is also a poem by his mother, Rosemary McGuffin.

McGuffin says that his biggest influence is his mother.

"My Mom was an English teacher at South Point High School for over a quarter century," he said. "She also was on faculty at Marshall and taught at National Community College. When I was a young child she dragged me to all the poetry groups. I was exposed to poetry as a young age. My mom wrote and I began to write myself. Through the years I continued the habit. The window of opportunity to seriously put a group of poems together finally developed and I had enough free time to put this together with my publisher."

McGuffin said he's comfortable with the stages of life.

"I've held the hands of people dying, talked to family members, and dealt with my own mother who has developed Alzheimer's Disease," he said. "It's a division of the stages of life I'm very familiar comfortable with. From delivering a new born baby all the way to a dying older person. The book's title comes its first poem, 'Common Illness.' I think the book is written in 95% layperson's language that the public would have a wonderful time reading. It's like a backdoor to the physician's brain."

McGuffin said the book deals with some heavy topics, but it also includes plenty of life's wonderful moments.

The book is available from Amazon.com and is available in paperback and Kindle formats.