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From the New Yorker, with permission
The Society for Veterinary Medicine and Literature was founded by a veterinarian / veterinary educator and a poet to support and advance the discussion of literature and other arts in veterinary medicine education and practice.

8/3/14: A nice write-up on the Society by Jane Karr in today's Sunday NY Times Education Life and online - interview with Elizabeth and Hilde's short poem, "Diagnosis."

Our anthology, Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People: Poems, essays, and stories on our essential connections, was published in June 2012 by Ontario Veterinary College, as part of the College's 150th anniversary celebration. The book is available at,, the Bookshelf in Guelph, and can be ordered from most local bookstores.

Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal PeopleThe collection of poems, stories, essays, and art combines the editors' selection of 45 pieces from several hundred anonymous submissions, and another twenty or so invited contributions from well-known writers including Lorna Crozier, Molly Peacock, Mark Doty, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Laura Boss, Patrick Lane, and a few of our students in past veterinary medicine and literature classes.

The anthology is divided into four sections: "The Work of the Animal," "Animal Doctors," "Passages," and "Imagination Itself."

From the editors' selections, we asked the award-winning poet Lorna Crozier to pick her favourites, which she writes about in her piece, "Five Favourites".

Past events:

June 5, 2012 book launch for Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People - Wonderful reading introduced by Hilde and Elizabeth and including Donna Curtin ("Don't You Love Animals"), Eufemia Fantetti ("How to Become a Cat Person"), Jeff Thomason ("The Subtle Distinctions between Housecats and First-Year Veterinary Students"), and Hilde Weisert ("Imagination Itself").

Our May 2010 Veterinary Medicine and Literature Symposium at Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada was the first-ever international gathering on veterinary medicine and the literary arts.

Featured: Poets Mark Doty, Molly Peacock and Lorna Crozier and writer Erika Ritter

The symposium examined the role of poetry, fiction, and essays in veterinary medicine and explore how literature enriches relationships among veterinarians, their clients, and (nonhuman) animals. The 2-1/2 day event brought together writers, veterinarians, veterinary students and scholars in diverse disciplines to explore common themes in veterinary medicine and literature. See our blog for a conference report.

Read Molly Peacock's "Widow".

About the Society   Founding Directors    Board    Membership

Join the discussion on our blog - View reviews of books by Mark Doty, Molly Peacock, Lorna Crozier!

Read All Creatures and Other Tales for the latest on the veterinary medicine and literature elective offered at Ontario Veterinary College.

About the Society

The Society promotes the reading and discussion of literary works to explore important issues in veterinary medicine—and for the intrinsic pleasure and value of reading and discussing good literature, a way of renewing one's joy in being a veterinarian and a human being. It also promotes the exchange of ideas between writers and veterinarians, animal scientists, animal behaviorists and others interested in animal life, and among the different areas of veterinary medicine.

Because little has been written on literature and veterinary medicine, our initial focus is making the interested communities aware of the possibilities of bringing literature and veterinary medicine together, and demonstrating some ways of doing so. This includes:

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Founding Directors

Elizabeth Stone, DVM, MS, MPP, DACVS, is a veterinary surgeon and Dean of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada. Elizabeth was formerly Department Head, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, where she instituted the selective in Veterinary Medicine and Literature.

Hilde Weisert is a poet, technology writer, and writing coach. She is a 2009 Virginia Center of Creative Arts fellow, a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet in the Schools, and a NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship winner, and her poems have appeared in magazines such as Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Ms, The Southern Poetry Review, and The Cortland Review. Her poem, "Finding Wilfred Owen Again," won the 2008 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Award from Calyx Press and appeared in the Calyx Winter 2008 issue and the Summer 2009 Wilfred Owen Journal. With Barbara Penn, she runs writing workshops for early-career faculty and mentoring workshops.

More from Elizabeth and Hilde on founding the Society...

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Board Members

Board members from a range of medical, scientific, and artistic disciplines bring their varied perspectives to help further the exchange between veterinary medicine and literature. Some of their activities include:

  • Recommending readings and providing commentaries
  • Advising on Society programs
  • Convening periodically to chart new directions

Board Members

Susan D. Jones, DVM and historian, University of Colorado; author, Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America

Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, Executive Director, Morris Animal Foundation

Molly Peacock, poet, is author of Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems, published by W.W. Norton, and Company and by Penguin Canada. Among her other works is How To Read A Poem & Start A Poetry Circle.

Barbara Penn, writer; founder, NC Action for Animals; former Executive Director, Moore Humane Society; Sandhills Zen Group

Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History and Head of the History Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Karen Young, Clinical Professor of Clinical Pathology, University of Wisconsin

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Membership is currently free and open to anyone interested in veterinary medicine and literature. Our goal is to create, and discover, bridges between conventionally separate disciplines and schools of thought—broadly, veterinary medicine and literature. For membership information, contact us.


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