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If God Is a Virus: Exclusive Conversation With Dr. Seema Yasmin

Event Date:

April 6, 2021 | 12:00 PM EDT TO 1:30 PM EDT
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As Liberia grapples to care for thousands of Ebola survivors, scientists strive to understand post...


Please join the Pulitzer Center for a special Champion event on April 6 at 12pm EDT with Dr. Seema Yasmin, who will be in a discussion with Pulitzer Center education manager (and poet-in-residence!) Hannah Berk.

The event is exclusive to Pulitzer Center Champion donors. Anyone who makes a donation of any size to the Pulitzer Center is a Champion. Learn more on how to become a Champion and join our team for events like this throughout the year.

Yasmin is a multimedia reporter, medical doctor, poet, and director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative. She trained in medicine at the University of Cambridge and in journalism at the University of Toronto. She is host of Cause + Control on, a medical analyst for CNN, and a former staff writer at The Dallas Morning News, where she received an Emmy Award for her reporting on neglected tropical diseases and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in breaking news in 2017 for coverage of a mass shooting.

The Pulitzer Center supported Yasmin's reporting on witch hunts in India in 2018, and her reporting from West Africa on Ebola in 2016, which was featured in Scientific American and Foreign Policy and led to her latest book of poetry, If God Is A Virus, which will be released on April 6. Yasmin has also participated in nearly a dozen educational and public outreach events with the Center, including ones on storytelling and misinformation in science.

Based on original reporting from West Africa and the United States, and the poet’s experiences as a doctor and journalist, If God Is A Virus charts the course of the largest and deadliest Ebola epidemic in history, telling the stories of Ebola survivors, outbreak responders, journalists, and the virus itself. Documentary poems explore which human lives are valued, how editorial decisions are weighed, what role the aid industrial complex plays in crises, and how medical myths and rumors can travel faster than microbes. These poems also give voice to the virus. Eight percent of the human genome is inherited from viruses and the human placenta would not exist without a gene descended from a virus. 

“These poems are a testament to sitting with strata about how people are treated and rendered erroneously in reports and studies, in appointments, in racist texts, and in people’s limited and grotesque imaginations and medical practices where life and death are a matter of words. Her work proves that poetry and public health together make and contain medical language, which makes the language of an epidemic more visible, more veracious. Every page has its own rhythm–some as odes to women in her lineage, others as a pathology of public collapse. What breaks through is a voice of interiority telling us what’s not told about our bodies and what it means to function.” — Janice Lobo Sapigao, poet laureate, Santa Clara County, author of like a solid to a shadow

Pulitzer Center Champions can register for the event here.


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