Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Christine Stewart


In this thesis I enter the medical poetry conversation, specifically focusing on scars, mortality and the doctor-patient relationship. I argue that the body standards society sets for women complicate how women wear scars; people read scars as imperfections on the female form. Because scars are visible markers on the body, they speak for themselves; I, therefore, encourage poets to write their own truth on their scars, to (re)write their meaning. In the mortality chapter, I argue that the isolation of death and burial and the dominant belief in the finality of death increases modern fear of death. This makes patients feel especially isolated when facing death. In the doctor-patient relationship chapter, I argue that the power structure between doctor and patient has changed in the last couple of centuries as doctors have learned more about the body and its functions. Doctors continue to hold power in this relationship through their knowledge and language which increases the powerlessness patients feel. However, through the process of writing, patients can harness this powerless feeling and turn it into something unique which individualizes and humanizes each patient. Through writing the poetry for this thesis, I have felt empowered even through exposing vulnerabilities; I have turned difficult medical situations into crafted poetry.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Poetry -- Therapeutic use.


Cancer -- Poetry.

Physician and patient.

Physician and patient -- Poetry.


Scars -- Poetry.


Mortality -- Poetry.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 101-104)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Poetry Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright