The last book of poems from former Quad City Poet Laureate Richard
Quad City Poet Laureate Dick Stahl’s My Cancer Chronicle bids us accompany him on an intimate journey beginning with the diagnosis of “A Red Dot” on his nose. He looks closely; he tells the truth. There is pain and gratitude, memories and love—all countless “symbolic gifts” forming “what we all aspire to—a better life.”
-Paul Olsen, Retired Professor and Track and Field Coach, Augustana College
…[Stahl’s] voice amplifies the incredible power of the spoken and written word to move people and make connections. This collection of poetry artfully takes the reader on a journey, his journey fighting cancer, one that is beautiful, relatable, and ultimately inspiring in the face of the intense challenges faced by cancer patients, their loved ones, and those who care for them.
-Brian Baxter, Executive Director, Quad City Symphony Orchestra
In this, his last collection of poems, Dick Stahl captures the ebb and flow of the human condition. Fighting his lethal cancer, he smiles at a white-checkered tablecloth that “looks healthy” or waves at the Milky Way or at a monitor Helen and he named “Charlie”. While he soberly knows the grains of sand are falling as they echo loudly in his ears, he contemplates the radioactive beads making a beeline to his liver. He looks headlong into the demon and expresses his condition with beauty, faith and grace.
-Dale G. Haake, attorney and former Poet Laureate of the Quad Cities
Cancer stories can make grim reading. But not this one. Dick Stahl’s My Cancer Chronicle forms a sprightly valediction, not an elegy. Honest without self-pity, optimistic without sentimentality, courageous without bravado, these richly-detailed poems give us “sharper eyes” to discover joy interwoven with pain. The “quick pen” Stahl had hoped for inspires us to celebrate life, love, and the power of words to heal what is beyond curing.
-Ann Boaden, author of Light and Leaven: Women Who Shaped Augustana's First Century
Dick Stahl’s death to cancer was a severe loss, but the poetic process he made from early detection, through stages of treatment, moments of grace, to final dictation, keep his spirit alive and with us. His refuge from pain in poetry is both testament and memorial; a final gift to his friends and admirers.
-Don Wooten, WVIK Radio Host and Columnist
You can read more about the book, including some sample poems, in this article by Trevor Jackson for the University of Iowa’s Department of Internal Medicine
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