Little Pharma


This first book of poems by writer, doctor, and medical ethicist Laura Kolbe is vital and urgent, tempered by wit and layered language.
Winner, 2020 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Request Exam or Desk Copy. Request Review Copy

The title Little Pharma is both a doppelgänger and a cri de coeur: as the poet’s dreamlike double, the character Little Pharma navigates the murky channels of the hospital and clinic, the borderlands of the living and the dead, and the journey from novice to healer. At the same time, the poems plead for a return to a littler pharma, a space for stolen intimacy and momentary quiet amid the impersonal and engulfing chill that floods the anatomical theater and the corridors of illness. Little Pharma is a Dantean journey from the depths of an institution, and of a pervading personal dread, to a renewed celebration of human contact, the body, and the giddy, terrifying excitement of ongoing life.

Excerpt from “Intensive Care”

Doctor, I don my day-face

like a net of cathodes, drained
of all irruption, non-particular.

Whose mask and sign
is Sun. Enter this sickroom

bugged with surging pentecosts of light,
the green tracings

of the representative heart.
Permit now its miraculous whim.

128 Pages, 6 x 8 in.

October, 2021

isbn : 9780822966722

about the author

Laura Kolbe

Laura Kolbe is a doctor and medical ethicist at New York–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She studied English and American literature at Harvard and the University of Cambridge. Her work has been anthologized in A World Out of Reach. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Andrew and their dog Bonnie.

learn more
Laura Kolbe