Photo courtesy of Richard Froude
After graduating from Naropa and spending time in Hollywood and Portland, Froude made his way back to Colorado in 2007, where he embarked on his first doctorate—a PhD in English (Creative Writing) at University of Denver (DU). While there, he launched a volunteer project at the University of Colorado Hospital, crafting “legacy documents” with palliative care patients. This grew into a grant-funded study at Denver Health, which Froude writes about in his essay “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead,” for which he received the 2013 Wabash Prize for Nonfiction, selected by Cheryl Strayed.Richard Froude (MFA Writing and Poetics, ‘04) figured he’d be in the United States for two years. After traveling from Bristol, United Kingdom, to attend one week of Naropa’s Summer Writing Program (SWP) in 2001, he had applied to the MFA in Writing and Poetics. A few months later, on his twenty-third birthday, he was accepted. “Like all of the other most important decisions I have made in my life, I just felt very strongly and intuitively that it was what I should do.” Sixteen years later, he’s living in Denver with his wife Rohini Gupta and their two children, with two doctorates, three books, and over a decade of teaching under his belt.
Days after graduating with his PhD, Froude took his first pre-med class at the University of Colorado Denver (CU), and in 2014, he started medical school, where he continued to explore his interest in narrative medicine. Froude graduated from medical school in May 2018. Recently he commenced his residency in psychiatry at the University of Colorado, during which he will rotate through the inpatient medicine, neurology, and psychiatry services at Denver Health, the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center, and the University of Colorado Hospital, before narrowing his focus to both inpatient and outpatient psychiatry.
“Medicine gave me the chance to live a second life, one that has transcended upon the life I already knew, and in doing this, I have the privilege of witness to the most profound moments of other people’s lives: the moments they enter the world, when they leave it, when they are at their most vulnerable, most angry, most dependent on another human being,” Froude explains. “WC Williams wrote how medicine let him into the secret gardens of people’s lives. That permission is heavy and amazing, a gift, and a challenge that persistently takes everything I have.”
It’s not surprising that Froude finds inspiration in the words of Williams—who famously held dual careers as a writer and physician. Throughout his time at DU and CU, Froude continued writing and taught classes at Naropa’s SWP and Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, including outreach programs at Denver School of the Arts and the Alzheimer’s Association. He’s currently working on a collection of essays, some of which were originally delivered as lectures at SWP. “It’s become a more coherent narrative about how I have found myself where I am, colored by the things I am most preoccupied by: poetry, art, illness, the body, psychosis, suicide, coming to another country and the loss inherent in this movement. I’m a real barrel of laughs.”
Writing about his status as an immigrant is heightened not only by the current political climate, but also by the fact that Froude is currently applying for dual citizenship. His thoughts on this speak to the heart of his work as a writer and doctor. “Re: the political climate in both the United States and the United Kingdom, I’ll say this: As human beings, and particularly as artists or as healers, we have the responsibility to name and to resist cruelty and injustice in all their forms.”
Froude’s fourth book, Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, is forthcoming from Subito Press later this year. He describes the book as “a fictionalized account of Richey Edward’s presumed suicide while I was in high school in England. But the book is not just this. It’s about loss, grief, the things you’d rather you hadn’t done. Sounds like a lot of fun, eh? It’s about the failure of language as we push against these things. BUT, it’s also about the triumph of language, of expression, of music, of failure itself, of all the things I have loved and tried to be.”
When asked about how he manages to balance his writing, medical, and family worlds, Froude notes the support of his wife. “I cannot imagine someone who is more supportive to me and the choices I have made than Rohini, who has her own career, is a full-time professor of psychology, runs her own private practice, and always has my back.”
He also muses, “I don’t know much about balance, but I’m starting to figure out how to be okay being off balance.” Some of this can be traced back to his Naropa education, which he credits with teaching him “the work of better trying to understand how it feels—and perhaps even what it means—to be alive, to occupy a body, to perceive, to be bewildered by our situation. And not only that work in itself, but to reflect upon that work. … The idea I return to most frequently that first arose for me at Naropa is to recognize and nurture my own negative capability—that capacity for uncertainty, not to grab for a solution prematurely but allow the situation to develop and disclose itself: a kind of radical patience with the overwhelming world.”
Read Froude’s “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” at www.dimeandhoney.com