February 28, 2018

Purdue medical humanities event to feature award-winning poet Marianne Boruch reading, dance performances, visual art

Marianne Boruch Marianne Boruch
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Award-winning poet and English professor Marianne Boruch will keynote the 2018 Medical Humanities Collective on March 22 with a reading of her eighth collection's title poem "Cadaver, Speak."

Boruch (pronounced Bor-ewsh), a member of the Purdue University Department of English for three decades, will lead a "Readers' Theatre" during the event, titled "Cadaver, Speak: Poetry and Performance Inspired by the Dissection Lab." It begins at 7:30 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

Students in the Indiana University School of Medicine-West Lafayette, along with poets in Purdue's Creative Writing MFA program, will aid Boruch in the reading of her long poem. Also on stage will be choreographers and dancers led by Holly Jaycox from the Division of Dance in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. To end the night, Boruch and all performers will hold a Q&A with the audience.

In addition, a gallery show, "From the Dissection Lab," runs March 19-23 in Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, featuring work by Department of Art and Design faculty members and students in response to the title poem and other pieces in "Cadaver, Speak." Boruch's drawings and watercolors also will be included. The reception is from 4:30-6:30 p.m. March 20, and includes a brief gallery talk by Boruch at 5 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. The program is sponsored by the Medical Humanities program in the College of Liberal Arts, which is an outgrowth of the Cancer Culture and Community Colloquium, a partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and Discovery Park. 

"How fitting it is to draw together the Purdue campus and the Greater Lafayette community again this year for the Medical Humanities Colloquium that will highlight the incredibly moving works of poetry by Purdue's very own Marianne Boruch," said Wendy Kline, the Dema G. Seelye Professor in the History of Medicine at Purdue.

Kristine Ann Swank Kristine Ann Swank
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"In 'Cadaver, Speak,' we see both literal and figurative forms that death can take. And we use her poetry reading as the centerpiece for a communitywide event that draws in students and faculty from different disciplines and experiences."

 Boruch, who founded Purdue's graduate program in creative writing in 1987 and still teaches both undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts students, has published nine collections of poetry, a memoir and three books of essays. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Poetry London, and elsewhere, and she has read her work nationally and internationally.

A former Guggenheim Fellow and Kingley-Tufts award-winner, she began "Cadaver, Speak" as a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy and completed the book as a Fulbright Professor at the University of Edinburgh.

As a Faculty Fellowship in a Second Discipline recipient in 2007, Boruch took an anatomy course at the Indiana University School of Medicine on Purdue's campus, finding herself in the so-called cadaver lab. There, Boruch was inspired by the cadaver of a 99-year-old woman who had donated her body to science, giving rise to "Cadaver, Speak." The title poem is written from this cadaver's perspective.

"She was very moving to me; she reminded me of my grandmother," Boruch says. "I stepped aside and let her be the speaker and the poem totally opened up for me." The poet also took a life-drawing class in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts.

In addition to the exhibit and poetry reading, this year's Medical Humanities event will honor the memory of the late Kristine Ann Swank, 65, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in northeastern Tippecanoe County on Aug. 1, 2017.

Swank, who had retired from Purdue a few months before her death, served as operations manager for the Oncological Sciences Center and was the point person for the annual colloquium. Her favorite part of working for the Discovery Park center was its emphasis on cancer research and advocacy: "I knew it was meant to be because my mother was battling cancer. I'm honored to do this work with such world-class colleagues and visionaries," she said in a 2014 Purdue Today Momentum Makers article.

In partnership with the College of Liberal Arts, the Oncological Sciences Center launched the Cancer Culture and Community initiative in 2007 to explore how the arts and literature provide an outlet of expression to those struggling with cancer. During the past decade, more than 2,700 students have been impacted through the colloquium and related events. 

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, pfiorini@purdue.edu, 765-496-3133

Alondra Magallanes, magalla3@purdue.edu 

Sources: Wendy Kline, wkline@purdue.edu, 765-496-2518

Marianne Boruch, mboruch@purdue.edu, 765-494-2122

Marietta Harrison, harrisom@purdue.edu, 765-494-4231

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