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A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Bear River Writers’ Conference in northern Michigan.  Living in a cabin by a lake, writing and workshopping poetry, meeting writers in Ann Arbor, connecting with the MFA faculty at Michigan, kayaking, talking writing by a bonfire–a complete dream during the entire 3 days I was there.  It started with my writing a 3-page email, as early as I could (6 months in advance), to my clerkship director explaining the importance of this conference to my medical education (see my previous post).  A few weeks later, I learned I was approved for a Friday absence that would allow me to attend the conference.  With Walloon Lake as a backdrop, a hot cup of tea on the table, I wrote my first poems since February/March.

I met some really cool people, some of them writers here in Ann Arbor.  Here’s a picture of me and Allison, who was part of my workshop and who’s also an editor at the University of Michigan Press.

And the nightly bonfire by Walloon Lake

Poetry, like medicine, is not a solitary endeavor.  Just as you can’t grow in your doctoring skills on your own, you can’t become a better poet without feedback, guidance, and not a little stealing inspiration from great writers! I’m really grateful to Bear River, Michigan’s MFA program, and, of course, UMMS for giving me this opportunity to sharpen my skills in this highly human craft.

Ting Gou is a fourth-year M.D. candidate at the University of Michigan Medical School, interested in psychiatry. Her first collection of poems, The Other House, is forthcoming this November from Blue Lyra Press. As a student in the IMPACT pilot program, she is working on her second poetry collection, inspired by patients with memory loss. When she is not seeing patients, she is either writing/reading/editing poetry or attending one of the many literary events in Ann Arbor. Connect with her on Twitter @tinggou.