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Only Human

The Prank Your Body Plays On Life

One of our first guests on the show last fall was the young poet Max Ritvo.

Ritvo, 25, has spent years living with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an incurable cancer. Meanwhile he’s gotten married, taught at Columbia University, and performed in an improv comedy group. His first book of poetry, Four Reincarnations, comes out this fall. One work from that book, “Poem to My Litter,” was just published in the New Yorker.

But Ritvo is more than his accomplishments. He’s someone who reminded us that there are many different ways to look at death, and dying, and some of them make you actually laugh at loud.

He came back to visit us a few weeks ago on what he called his “farewell tour.” Even in his final days, Max says he keeps his sense of humor alive.

“When you laugh at something horrible, you're just illuminating a different side of it that was already there. If you make something sad funny you're much more likely to remember it. It’s a mnemonic device that makes our suffering rhyme with joy.”

We invited an artist, Nate Milton, to animate two of Max’s poems:

Poem to My Litter

 

Afternoon

 

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