Congratulations…

Congratulations…

We’re going to be working away on preparing Season 3 of ‘Poems for Doctors’ soon, and we also hope to have exciting news about something a little different happpening shortly.

In the meantime, it has been graduation season, so here is a collection of photos showing the idea that started our project in the first place – graduates receiving copies of ‘Tools of the Trade: Poems for Doctors’. These 2018 graduates are receiving copies of the anthology at the School of Medicine in St Andrews as they complete their degree course here.

 

Night Sister

Night Sister

On its 70th Anniversary of we celebrate the foundation of the UK National Health Service with the final reading of our current season. Happy Birthday NHS!

A big thank-you to all of our medical readers, to our colleagues at Scottish Poetry Library who have helped with tricky legal matters about securing permissions, and most of all to everyone who has watched and listened to the readings.  We hope to be back again before long with some new readings, and perhaps some other new additions to the project. If you have any suggestions or comments you would like to make, we’d be delighted to hear from you, please get in touch.

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 2 : poem 8

Hospital trainee doctor Chris Lowe reads Night Sister by Elizabeth Jennings

Night Sister

Elizabeth Jennings

How is it possible not to grow hard,
To build a shell around yourself when you
Have to watch so much pain, and hear it too?
Many you see are puzzled, wounded; few
Are cheerful long. How can you not be scarred?

To view a birth or death seems natural,
But these locked doors, these sudden shouts and tears
Graze all the peaceful skies. A world of fears
Like the ghost-haunting of the owl appears.
And yet you love that stillness and that call.

You have a memory for everyone;
None is anonymous and so you cure
What few with such compassion could endure.
I never met a calling quite so pure.
My fears are silenced by the things you’ve done.

We have grown cynical and often miss
The perfect thing. Embarrassment also
Convinces us we cannot dare to show
Our sickness. But you listen and we know
That you can meet us in our own distress.

Rights: from Collected Poems ed Emma Mason (Carcanet Press Ltd, 1987) by permission of David Higham Associates

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

Striking the right note

Striking the right note

Scottish Medical Humanities is a project that aims to enrich the experience of healthcare practitioners, students and trainees. Their summer event, called “Differing ways of seeing: what medical humanities can offer” took place in St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh last week. It was an evening of performance and discussion to celebrate humanities in healthcare education.

We set up the Poems for Doctors kiosk in the beautiful Music Museum there, and visitors seemed to enjoy taking some quiet moments to listen to several poems.

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3, i-viii

Ecclesiastes 3, i-viii

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Our second season of readings will come to a close with one more poem on Thursday 5th July this week, coinciding with the 70th Anniversary of the UK’s National Health Service.

Season 2 : poem 7

Medical student Nicola Hall reads Ecclesiastes 3, i-viii from the Bible

Ecclesiastes 3, i-viii

Anon. (The Bible)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

Recovery Room

Recovery Room

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 2 : poem 6

Medical lecturer Gillian Strugnell reads Recovery Room by Patricia Beer

Recovery Room

Patricia Beer

The noise in the recovery room
Was half footfall and half hum

Like a well-mannered gallery
Of pictures that I could not see.

And then a name disrupted it:
The hated name of childhood: Pat,

A name I had not answered to
For fifty years and would not now.

Another voice began to talk:
Pat. And still I did not speak.

My husband waited in my room
And in the end they sent for him,

After an hour or two of this.
I heard Patricia. And said ‘Yes?’

Rights: by permission of Carcanet Press

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

At Eighty

At Eighty

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 2 : poem 5

Medical Demonstrator Eilish Hannah reads At Eighty by Edwin Morgan

At Eighty

Edwin Morgan

Push the boat out, compañeros,
push the boat out, whatever the sea.
Who says we cannot guide ourselves
through the boiling reefs, black as they are,
the enemy of us all makes sure of it!
Mariners, keep good watch always
for that last passage of blue water
we have heard of and long to reach
(no matter if we cannot, no matter!)
in our eighty-year-old timbers
leaky and patched as they are but sweet
well seasoned with the scent of woods
long perished, serviceable still
in unarrested pungency
of salt and blistering sunlight. Out,
push it all out into the unknown!
Unknown is best, it beckons best,
like distant ships in mist, or bells
clanging ruthless from stormy buoys.

Rights: from Cathures: New Poems 1997-2001 (Carcanet Press Ltd, 2002), with permission of the publisher

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 2 : poem 3

Consultant Neurologist Prof John Zajicek reads Multiple Sclerosis by Cynthia Huntington

Multiple Sclerosis

Cynthia Huntington

For ten years I would not say the name.
I said: episode. Said: setback, incident,
exacerbation—anything but be specific
in the way this is specific, not a theory
or description, but a diagnosis.
I said: muscle, weakness, numbness, fatigue.
I said vertigo, neuritis, lesion, spasm.
Remission. Progression. Recurrence. Deficit.

But the name, the ugly sound of it, I refused.
There are two words. The last one means: scarring.
It means what grows hard, and cannot be repaired.
The first one means: repeating, or myriad,
consisting of many parts, increasing in number,
happening over and over, without end.

Rights: by permission of Four Way Books

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

From the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

From the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 2 : poem 3

Medical Demonstrator Wojciech Cymes reads From the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh by Andrew Greig

From the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Andrew Greig

My only talent lay in these.
My father rubbed his hands together,
stared as though their whorls held codes
of thirty years obstetric surgery.
It’s a manual craft – the rest’s just memory
and application. The hard art
lies in knowing when to stop.

He curled his fingers like a safe-cracker
recalling a demanding lock;
I glimpse a thousand silent break-ins:
the scalpel’s shining jemmy pops
a window in the body, then – quick! –
working in the dark remove or
re-arrange, clean up, quit,
seal the entrance. Oh strange burglar
who leaves things better than he found them!
On good days it seemed my fingertips
could see through skin, and once inside
had little lamps attached, that lit
exactly how and where to go.
He felt most kin to plumbers, sparks and joiners,
men whose hands would speak for them.

I wander through the college, meet
portraits of those names he’d list,
Simpson, Lister, Wade and Bell,
the icons of his craft, recalled
as though he’d known them personally.
Impossible, of course. Fingers don’t see.
Yet it gave me confidence, so I could proceed.

I stare at the College coat of arms,
that eye wide-open in the palm,
hear his long-dead voice, see again
those skilful hands that now are ash;
working these words I feel him by me,
lighting up the branching pathways.
Impossible, of course, and yet it gives
me confidence. We need
to believe we are not working blind;
with his eye open in my mind
I open the notebook and proceed.

Rights: from This Life, This Life: New and selected poems 1970-2006 (Bloodaxe Books, 2006), reproduced by permission of the publisher.

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/

On the road again

On the road again

The Poems for Doctors video kiosk (pictured above at the Byre Theatre during Stanza 2018) is going to be on the road again later this month.

On June 28th the Scottish Medical Humanities Group is hosting an evening event called “Differing ways of seeing: what medical humanities can offer” at St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh. The event is a celebration of humanities in healthcare education, and the PfD kiosk will be on show during the event.

I asked the Dr Eleri Williams, who is coordinating the event, to check out possible spaces where we might put the kiosk, and send me some photographs. I was more than a little impressed with what came back – this is the Laigh Hall …

… which I think is rather a splendid location!  The kiosk will be in a quiet wee corner in this grand space, with a handy seat in case anyone would like to take a moment or two to listen and reflect on some of our readers’ videos.

Further details of the event  “Differing ways of seeing: what medical humanities can offer”

Season 1

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