the cancer poetry project

Words to Relate To: The Cancer Poetry Project

by Tracy Rothschild Lynch
Richmond, Virginia
It isn’t enough to be handed your life,
delicate as an encyclopedia page,
for you to protect.
You are expected to make something of it too.
Craft it, fold it, bend it,
shape it.
Shape it up.
You tell yourself that again,
and again,
and yet again.

Emotional release takes on many forms. For writer and editor Karin B. Miller, poetry is one of her favorite ways to express herself. When Karin’s husband, Thom, was diagnosed with cancer, Karin found solace and comfort by writing poems about the experience.

In 2001, Karin decided to see if there were other spouses, partners, family members, friends, and even people coping with cancer themselves, who likewise found peace through writing poetry. She reached out to the public and 1,200 entries rolled in from published and non-published poets alike. Poets of all ages and occupations.

From the submissions, Miller had the hard job of choosing 140 poems to be published in her award-winning anthology, The Cancer Poetry Project 1. The response to The Cancer Poetry Project 1 was so enthusiastic that in 2013, Miller edited and published a second volume, The Cancer Poetry Project 2.

Fans of the books praise the poetry for being, “poignant, honest, and insightful.” Themes explore many emotions and situations created by living with cancer including denial, anger, recovery, hope, and even humor.

For Karin Miller, The Cancer Poetry Project touches her deeply:

“I dreamed of having the book available in cancer clinics and hospitals across the country. I remember trying to read old magazines in our clinic lobby and none of them resonated. Especially on really tough days, how can you care about losing 10 pounds or building a deck or the latest political scandal when a loved one is fighting for life?”

For more on The Cancer Poetry Project:


the cancer poetry project karin miller

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