Cross-Pollinations: Canadian Health Humanities Virtual Rounds Series

The Canadian Association for Health Humanities and the League of Canadian Poets are partnering to deliver a series of monthly rounds focused on health, arts and humanities. These live sessions will feature both artists and professionals in the Health Humanities field for a multi-faceted conversation about topics related to healthcare, art, healing, and humanities.

In this ground-breaking new series, health humanities and poetry come together under the same scope, combining artistic expression with health practice and research. The conversations of Cross-Pollinations will illuminate new and emerging insights and perspectives on healthcare opportunities and challenges, healthcare approaches and advances, as well as build bridges of connection between health professionals, humanities and the arts.

This series is ideal for people in arts communities, poets and writers, as well as those working in healthcare.

Next event: Wednesday, November 30, 2022

6pm EDT/3pm PDT

Helen Humphreys and Catherine Dhavernas


Catherine Dhavernas is Associate Professor in the Department of French Studies at Queen’s University. As a specialist in French literature and theory, her work on the past, memory and modern constructions of narrative identity led her to explore the limits of representation in relation to historical and individual trauma. Through this work she began to study the reception and use of accounts of aging and dying in medicine which led to her current collaborations with physicians and health care organizations in the area of the medical humanities and narrative medicine focusing on palliative care and care of older adults. While on a leave of research in Australia for the past five years, Catherine has worked as a volunteer biographer at Karuna Hospice and led research collaborations at St Vincent’s and Southern Cross Care residential aged care services. Working in partnership with the Queensland State Archives, the rural community of Kilkivan and Griffith University over the past four years, she developed and implemented a number of student-run interventions including the Biography and Memory Lounge projects to address the loneliness and isolation experienced by many older persons living in residential aged care facilities and regional communities. Catherine has been a volunteer in palliative and aged care since 2013. Prior to moving to Australia, she developed a medical humanities course on the challenges of aging and dying for Queen’s University’s graduate program in Aging and Health and began her volunteer work in palliative care with Hospice Kingston.

Helen Humphreys is the award-winning writer of four books of poetry, five works of creative non-fiction, and nine novels. Her work has been translated into many languages, published internationally, and optioned for stage, film, television, and opera. She lives and works in Kingston, Ontario.

Register today!

Upcoming Events

  • November 30, 2022: Catherine Dhavernas and Helen Humphreys

Register for all Cross-Pollinations events

Past Events

Provide feedback on past events here.

October 26, 2022: Malika Sharma and Rebecca Salazar. Recording coming soon.

August 31, 2022: Dr. Ted Jablonsky and poet Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch. View the recording.

June 29, 2022 – Christine Anonuevo and Jennifer Wickham. Christine Anonuevo presented information about her current research project that focuses on the health of racialized womxn in northern geographies and Jen shared place-based poetry as an embodiment of Wet’suwet’en ways of knowing and being. View the recording.

March 30, 2022 – Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan and Martha Gould. The Rare Dementia Support (RDS) Impact Study is a five-year research study funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and National Institute for Health Research (UK). This work is a collaboration between Nipissing University in North Bay, University College London (UCL) in England, and Bangor University in Wales and led by Professor Sebastian Crutch at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL. It is the first major study of its kind to learn more about the support needs and care preferences of people affected by a rare or young onset dementia. This research includes the exploration of the use of poetry as a methodological tool to: (i) empirically and theoretically understand the experiences of people affected by rare or young onset dementia across different stages of dementia; and (ii) assess the potential of poetry to engage the public and raise awareness about different forms of dementia, other than Alzheimer’s disease, that are more likely to be diagnosed in younger people. View the recording.

February 23, 2022 – Poetry & Medicine: Developmental Stages with S.K. Hughes and Shane Neilson. In this presentation, S.K. Hughes, a practising family physician, reads poems that are in relation to her identity and medical training. Shane Neilson reads parts of a lyric essay that explores what thinking poetically meant and continues to mean at different stages of his medical career. The format alternates such that Dr. Hughes reads poems pertaining to a particular stage of training and Dr. Neilson reads lyric fragments that explore what being a poet even meant then in his corresponding (but not commensurate) medical context. View the Recording.

January 26, 2022 – Artist in Residence programs at medical schools. Poet Andrea Thompson opens this event with a powerful set of poems, before joined by Monica Kidd (MD) and Pam Hall (visual artist, former artist in residence at Memorial University). Monica shares the case study of the Memorial experience in a pre-recorded conversation with two other people who facilitated it: then-dean of the medical school, Dr. Ian Bowmer, and Patricia Grattan, former director of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. View the recording here.

December 29, 2021 – A recorded poetry reading with Leanne Dunic, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Armand Garnet Ruffo. In this hour-long video, each poet shares beautiful, vulnerable, and intimate work that embraces, rails against, and coexists with illness, medicine, and healing. We hope during these strange final days of 2021, you can find a moment to sit with these poets’ generous readings and reflect on your own relationship with health, healing, and art. View the reading here.

November 24, 2021 – Poetry, Poetics and Experiential Knowledge of Disability: In this conversational exchange, poet and professor Emilia Nielsen and poet and multimedia artist Tea Gerbeza explore the many ways disability shows up in life, art, and writing. Reflecting on the impetus for their own critical and creative work in disability studies and crip theory as well as the many questions that remain unanswered where the representation and reality of disability is concerned, Nielsen and Gerbeza urge for a rethinking of disability poetry so that it might include fierce love, pleasure and even joy all while unpacking ableism and ableist common sense logics. Here, the poetry and poetics of disability aspire to be as disruptive and unruly as the bodies and minds from which the work emerges. Watch the recording here.

October 27, 2021 – The Poetics of Psychosis: In a close reading of Khashayar Mohammadi’s poetry, Mohammadi and poet-physician Bahar Orang engage in discussion around language, consciousness, and being. From the creative freedom of psychosis to the medical and societal rejection of psychotic individuals, this discussion spanned personal, professional, creative, and existential experiences of psychosis from its manifestation in the body to the nuances of its language.


September 29, 2021 – Palliative Care and beyond: Palliative care researcher Hsien Seow was joined by poet and anesthesiologist Conor McDonnell for a rich, 90-minute discussion encompassing poetry, care, language, communication, and how each of these things influences life, medicine, and art. Watch the recording here.


August 25, 2021 – Narrative Medicine: Exploring our personal experiences along with interactive narrative exercises as medical students and physicians with Narrative Medicine as a tool for self-reflection and community building. Originally developed by Rita Charon from Columbia University, Narrative Medicine invites us to turn to the humanities to guide the way we think about our medical practice and interactions. Finding ways to connect and share human experiences has been especially critical during the pandemic, and these virtual sessions have grown into spaces to share stories of burnout, professional identity, and healing. This event featured a presentation from Zamina Mithani, Nancy Duan, and Karen Wang of the University of British Columbia, with a reading from poet Conyer Clayton. Watch the recording here.

June 30, 2021 – Literary Lessons on Doctoring: Maryam Golafshani, now half way through medical school, reflects back upon her own literary education and experience with mental illness to try to fill in the gaps of all medical school has failed to teach her: what it means to care for another, to come close to suffering, and where to find beauty amidst it all. Maryam was joined by poet Jody Chan, who read from their Trillium Award-winning poetry collection Sick. Read Maryam’s talk here, and Jody’s set here; view the recording here.

May 26, 2021 – Let’s Talk About Art Therapy! Jessika Welch took participants through the benefits, misconceptions and the various populations that art therapists can work with, both clinical and non-clinical. Medical Art Therapy will be briefly explored as well as externalization from a narrative based approach. Resources on free and accessible brief Art Therapy will be shared and questions are welcome! After our presentation on art therapy, poet, registered psychotherapist and author Ronna Bloom will join our presentation for a spontaneous poem and thoughts on her multi-faceted work. Ronna Bloom, poet, registered psychotherapist and author will joined the presentation to provide spontaneous poetry and thoughts on this multi-faceted work. View the recording here.

April 28, 2021 – Party Like It’s 1699: The Political Economy of Medical Education in an Era of “Societal Needs”: Canadian medical education currently finds itself governed by competency-based frameworks based around societal needs. But whose “societal needs” are at the heart of these frameworks? Using an approach of critical discourse analysis, this talk examined the Professional Role of CanMEDS, the discursive construction of “societal needs”, and consider what effects this elaboration may have for the learners, the medical education field, and society writ large. After an informative presentation by Brett Schrewe, Kate Marshall Flaherty performed a spontaneous poem, and shared some of her own work and perspective on health, healing and recovery. View the recording here.

March 3, 2021: Jen Sebring and Lauren turner explored the emerging scholarship of “sickness” as a critical methodology, and how it might be useful in humanizing medical care for those living with chronic illness or disability. Rooted in feminist theory and disability studies, sickness as a methodology considers not only the embodied, felt experience of living with illness, but also the politics of navigating healthcare as a body that biomedicine cannot “fix.”. View the recording here

January 27, 2021: Launch event Featuring poets Charlie C Petch, Ron Charach, Samantha Jones and Rajinderpal S. Pal. This event was poetry-packed and an excellent celebration of this new series and collaboration.

This Series is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, the Canadian Association for Health Humanities and the Health Arts Research Centre.