Sunita Puri with Oliver de la Paz
That Good Night: On Dignity, Suffering, and the Role of Medicine in Life's Eleventh Hour
A Discussion with Sunita Puri, author of That Good Night and Worcester Poet Laureate, Oliver de la Paz
Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 5:30pm
A profound exploration of what it means for all of us to live—and to die—with dignity and purpose. —People
Visceral and lyrical. —The Atlantic
Dr. Sunita Puri grew up with deeply spiritual immigrant parents who taught her at a young age that impermanence is an inescapable fact of life. But during her medical training, she was not taught how to talk about suffering, grief, mortality, or dying with her patients and their families. She began to wonder what people were really trying to say when they described themselves as “fighters” against cancer, or the choices they’d make if they knew their illness was very advanced. In her memoir, That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, Sunita interweaves stories of her upbringing with stories about her patients to help readers understand the importance of precise, compassionate language when talking with our doctors and each other about what we want for ourselves when we are very sick, and what it means to live with meaning and purpose as we face mortality. In this special event, Dr. Puri will be in conversation with Oliver de la Paz, Worcester’s Poet Laureate and Professor of English at Holy Cross, about the importance of storytelling in medicine, how contemplating our mortality can help us to live fuller lives, and how we might understand dying from a place of curiosity rather than fear. Book sales and signing to follow the event.
Dr. Sunita Puri is the Program Director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship at the University of Massachusetts, where she is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine. A graduate of Yale University and the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, JAMA, and, forthcoming, the New Yorker. She and her work have been featured in the Atlantic, People Magazine, PBS’ Christian Amanpour Show, NPR, the Guardian, BBC, India Today, and Literary Hub.
Oliver de la Paz is the Poet Laureate of Worcester, MA for 2023-2025. He is the author and editor of seven books: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, Post Subject: A Fable, and The Boy in the Labyrinth, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry. His newest work, The Diaspora Sonnets, is forthcoming from Liveright Press in 2023. With Stacey Lynn Brown he co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. He has received grants from the NEA, NYFA, the Artist’s Trust, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has been awarded multiple Pushcart Prizes. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PLU.