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Well Versed

The eloquence of an up-and-coming doctor-writer earns national recognition

homeless vet

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A 4th-year student at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine has won the 2017 Pharos Poetry Competition. Marc M. Beuttler’s poem, “H & P” about a poignant encounter with a homeless veteran, took first place in the annual national contest and is available online here.

The Pharos is a quarterly journal published by Alpha Omega Alpha Honor (AΩA) Medical Society since 1938 and named for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria. According to the Society, The Pharos publishes scholarly essays covering a wide array of nontechnical medical subjects, including medical history, ethics, and medical-related literature. The annual poetry competition is open to all medical students currently enrolled in medical schools with active AΩA chapters. AΩA describes poetry as the “hardest form of writing, and the purpose of this award is to recognize and encourage effective poetry.”

For Beuttler, writing poetry is just something he’s always done. “I've been writing poetry since the third grade when I first learned about it in school. I still have some of the poems nine-year-old me wrote – many of them the embarrassing evidence of a nerdy kid.”

As normal as breathing, for him it just sort of flows. “It's very natural and rhythmic. Maybe it's because I play the piano and poetry is lyrical - halfway between singing and speaking.”

This form of creativity can be more than an outward expression, it can help to process life internally.

“In many ways it's cathartic,” notes Beuttler. “Sometimes a poem begins as a feeling or thought that I need to express, and then it comes out all at once on the paper. This poem was like that. Other times I write a poem to explore an idea - those poems are more difficult to get down. Occasionally it's just fun to play with words.”

Marc Beuttler
This is his first creative publication. And it almost didn’t happen. Beuttler entered the competition on a whim. “My roommate, a fourth year at LSU, saw the contest in a school email and encouraged me to enter. I had written the poem a week before and decided to clean it up and submit it.”

It’s also the first time that the young man who chose to become a physician because “medicine, both scientific and creative, allows you to know people deeply and enact real changes in their lives,” has shared his work with such a wide audience.

“It's nice to share my poetry with other people and have them relate,” says Beuttler. “I mostly write poetry for myself without any particular intention. This is the first time a large number of people have read my writing. Some of them have reached out and said it really touched them. That's a good feeling.”