Angela Andrews

Angela explored the intersection of poetry and medicine within the medical humanities: how the being, knowing and doing in poetry relates to medical practice.

PhD awarded 2017

Angela investigated the relationship between medicine and poetry. Having previously trained as a doctor, she graduated with an MA from the IIML in 2005. Her first book, Echolocation , was published by Te Herenga Waka University Press in 2007. Her poems have appeared in Best New Zealand Poems, Sport and Landfall.

Angela's project was a hybrid thesis that interrogated the relationship between poetry and medicine through creative writing. Memoir and poems were used to explore the personal experience of a doctor who undertook postgraduate study in creative writing, alongside discussion of published academic material that situates the work in the broader field of medical humanities.

While the clinical training of doctors cultivates a 'way of seeing' that both highlights and obscures aspects of medicine, the embodied knowledge conveyed through literature offers a different kind of understanding, with its own constraints and affordances. Angela explored creative writing itself as a mode of thinking, in the context of understanding illness, trauma, and the intersection of our lives with the medical world. In doing so, she asked: in what ways does the knowing, being and doing in poetry enlighten aspects of knowing, being and doing in medicine? How might creative writing deepen our understanding of medical practice?

Angela writes: 'I started my MA pretty much straight from a clinical job in the hospital. It was a vastly different way of seeing the world, compared to what I'd learnt at medical school. Ever since then, I've been thinking about the contrast, and complementarity, of the two schools I've attended at university. I'm interested in how that relationship might be relevant to medical practice.'