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Catharine Clark-Sayles' "One Breath"
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The irrepressible aliveness and weird wisdom of the father and son series should win it a lasting place in the literature of our day. --Globe & Mail, Toronto.
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Catharine Clark-Sayles

Now reading Catharine Clark-Sayles’ new book, “One Breath,” published by Tebot Bach. Catharine’s a much-admired physician in the Bay Area and I agree with Margaret Kaufman who comments, “As carefully arranged as a tray of surgical instruments, Clark-Sayles’ poems in "One Breath" lead us from youth to maturity in two practices: medicine and poetry… Her poems are full of confidence and tact, even when describing medical school training: the cadaver’s truths, and a comprehension of facts as ‘the doctor’s art seeps in unseen.’

In an interview in Marin Poetry Center Newsletter, Catharine notes, “There’s been an explosion of medical humanities programs around the world, and I believe that’s in response to the pure science, trying to rebalance… my going to poetry was a way of rebalancing.” Then she speaks of Dr. Rachael Naomi Remen (writer and co-founder of Commonweal Cancer center) and poems Dr. Remen read, poems written by patients dying of cancer and how that experience proved to be an inspiration for an outpouring of work that led this new book.

Catharine says, “My poems are poems of love and grief and loss. To me, poetry helps me stay in touch with that and to also take it and make something positive of it. When I was in training fairly traumatic things would happen and there wasn’t a mechanism to address them…

In a poem called ‘Holding,” Catharine writes:

“I ask you is there anything you want.
When you say ‘I want to live’ I skip a breath
as if I’d fallen hard. You say ‘I’m sorry,

I’m not good at this’ as if death were a skill anyone learns…”