– Poetry and Healing with Roger Sippl –
My relationship with cancer began when I was 19, a junior at UC Berkeley, when I was given a twenty percent chance of surviving my stage IIIB Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma. Near the beginning of the treatment I had to recover from a major surgery to take out my spleen, part of my liver and part of my hip bone, solely for
the purpose of trying to figure out how far the cancer had spread. I was in the hospital for a week, and then in a motel for a week where my mother tended to me,
while knitting a sweater for me.
I had already had several months of radiation therapy, with more months to come, and then seven months of chemotherapy, which was much tougher. It was ten years
later, when I thought back to the thinnest of my body in the midst of the chemotherapy, and that desperation merged in my mind with my mother’s raw
worry for me, and the knitting needles, clicking, with an off-beat but repetitive three-part rhythm, click click click, as she knit, as if doing penance, saying the
rosary, working the worry beads, praying the prescribed three Our Fathers and five Hail Marys. (The editor of the first journal to publish The Sweater, Charles Kell,
decided that it should be in tricets, and he was right about that. It matches the clicking of the needles that way.)
The Neighbor Lady
Artist’s Statement Continued:
Decades later I am “the go to guy” in my neighborhood when someone is diagnosed with cancer. I am not a doctor, but I am known to be able to help someone understand what is happening to them, believe it, and look forward and find the right treatment. However, sometimes things don’t go well, and thinking of how one such situation was goingmade me imagine The Neighbor Lady. It is fiction, but felt quite real as I wrote it, and sometimes that counts just as much or more to me.Heavenly Whispers is not quite so fictional, as I did flat line after my heart valve replacement surgery, necessary because of the radiation damage during the treatment that saved my young life. As I was writing it, though, I decided Heavenly Whispers were not the mumblings of a hard-to- find St. Peter, but rather a place, a retirement home, withgreenbelts, and a bowling alley, golf course and swimming pool, and the remnants of life happen there.(See Heavenly Whispers, the book, on Amazon and also my poetry blog, www.rogersippl.com.)Did all of this help me recover? Yes, of course.
About the Author
Roger Sippl studied creative writing at the University of California at Irvine, the University of California at Berkeley (under Thom Gunn) and at Stanford Continuing Studies. He has published Poetry in the Ocean State Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Snapdragon, Wising Up Press, Medussa’s Laugh and two medical journals, JAMA Oncology and CHEST. He has written his first novel, Re-Breathing, which is in revision.
Sippl is the author of three self-published books of poetry, Heavenly Whispers (available on Amazon), Real Nature (available on Amazon in May, 2018) and a water color art and poetry book Bridgehampton (available on Amazon in June, 2018).
While a student at UC Berkeley in the 1970’s, Sippl was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was treated aggressively with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, allowing him to live relapse-free to this day.
See more poetry and photos on his website at:
Sippl is also a software industry pioneer and the founder of Informix Software, one of the first database management system companies. He also co-founded Vantive Software, and founded Visigenic Software. All three of these companies enjoyed public offerings, for which he is forever grateful.
The Ocean State Review, Charles Kell editor, was the first to publish “The Sweater” in their 2016 edition.
“The Sweater” was accepted again by Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, which is primarily a print journal.
“The Sweater” and “Heavenly Whispers” have been re-published by Wising Up Press/Universal Table for their Longer Than Expected web anthology.
The medical journal CHEST first published “Heavenly Whispers,” the title poem of my book of the same name, in July of 2017 on page 210.
“The Neighbor Lady” was first published in the 2017 Bacopa Literary Review annual collection.
“Heavenly Whispers” and “The Neighbor Lady” are both part of the self-published book, Heavenly Whispers, available on Amazon.
“The Sweater” is also part of the self-published book, Real Nature, that will be available on Amazon in May, 2018.
Read more poetry on Dreamers Creative Writing, like these poems by Duane Herrmann.
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