First Poetry Café Event at Georgetown Lombardi, MedStar Georgetown Provides Inspiration, Empowerment

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A man speaks from behind a podium
Deacon Thomas (Tom) Devaney, director of Mission and Pastoral Care

(June 27, 2016) — Medicine and the arts seamlessly intertwine in a new event that draws out the creativity of the Georgetown Lombardi and MedStar Georgetown healthcare community.

“We are all interested in getting MedStar Georgetown patients, caregivers, medical professionals and students more involved in the creative life of the hospital,” says Julia Langley, director of the Arts and Humanities Program at Georgetown Lombardi.

“We believe that expressive writing has transformative power that helps people deal with the stress that being in the hospital has on their lives,” Langley continues.

The Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program and MedStar Georgetown’s Department of Mission and Pastoral Care hosted the Poetry Café in the MedStar Georgetown hospital chapel on June 16.

The coordinating committee for the event included Deacon Thomas (Tom) Devaney, director of Mission and Pastoral Care, Kristen Parnes, chaplain resident, Sarah Spinler, office administrator from Mission and Pastoral Care, Langley and Shadae Paul, program coordinator of the Arts & Humanities Program.

A woman speaks from behind a podium
Angela Richards recites poetry

Weeks beforehand, there was a call for submission of poems on the themes of comfort, healing, empowerment, and/or transformation. In addition, poetry workshops with Nancy Morgan, Arts & Humanities writing clinician and director emeritus, helped poets jumpstart their creativity for the Café.

The event was meant to showcase the poetry of MedStar Georgetown community members in a “coffeehouse” atmosphere with the goal of providing comfort for readers and listeners alike. A quilt made by Georgetown Lombardi artist-in-residence, Lauren Kingsland, was the backdrop for the podium where the poems were shared.

To start off the Café, Laura Shay, a former chaplain intern, provided djembe drum music to set the mood. Between each poem, Shay would play improvise on the djembe to signal the next reader to come to the stage.

Instead of clapping, the audience members snapped to signal their engagement.

After the reading, Lisa Levine, a former chaplain intern, who also had presented a poem, performed a closing musical number “Bridge to Peace,” a song she had written to comfort one of her patients in the hospital.

“Your voices were heard and your words touched the entire MedStar Georgetown University Hospital community.  We so appreciate your courage in sharing your journeys with us – your words provided so much meaning and inspiration,” said Parnes.

In collaboration with this event, Lombardi Voices, a literary publication of the Arts & Humanities Program, is accepting submissions for its Fall 2016 issue. All submitted work should be sent to Nancy Morgan at

Christie Maillet
Georgetown Lombardi Communications