Sunday, September 11, 2005

McLean recognized as literary landmark * This article has appeared in the McLean Hospital Newsletter

McLean has often been the subject of works of art, including novels, films, poems and song lyrics. Earlier this year, the Academy of American Poets recognized McLean for its contribution to literature, naming it a national literary landmark. The hospital is one of 31 landmarks to be included on the Academy’s list. Other landmarks include poets' birthplaces, poetry museums and libraries, places of poetic inspiration and sites that commemorate poetry.

"We tried to identify places where people can literally walk in a poet's footsteps," said the academy's executive director Tree Swenson. "We received hundreds of poetry landmark nominations, and we heard from people in all fifty states. We are excited to recognize points on our country's physical landscape, from Maine to Georgia to Montana, which are important to the cultural landscape."

McLean was chosen for the inspiration it gave to poets Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton, all of whom had ties to the hospital.
Plath’s The Bell Jar and Lowell’s Walking in the Blue are two works most notably inspired by their time at McLean.

"…This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean’s;
the hooded night lights bring out ‘Bobbie,’
Porcellian ’29,
a replica of Louis XVI…"
~from Lowell’s Waking in the Blue

"The use of poetry and writing can be beneficial for those battling a mental illness," said published poet Douglas Holder, a mental health counselor at McLean. "What you bring to the paper can clarify things." He added that poetry allows a person to see behind the surface and to explore humanity instead of the label of "psychiatric patient."

"In spite of mental illness, creative work can be done," said Holder. "McLean is an inspirational place for many. I’m not surprised it has been named a literary landmark."
The 31 literary landmarks are part of a larger project by the Academy of American Poets called the National Poetry Almanac. It can be viewed at
Doug Holder

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