Sunday 22 April 2012

Oulipo - my contributions

  • Russian Doll (published in Aesthetica). This is in the "Russian Doll" form - to get the continuation of the piece, take the first letter of each word. Continue this process, taking the first letter of the continuation's words, and so on until only one word is left - the final word is 'inside'.
  • Met a Star's Eyes/Metastasize (published today in "The Journal of Microliterature"). This is a long homonyn (if the sound isn't the same, the spelling is)

Both are feasibility studies, potential works.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Medical Humanities?

Medicine and Literature cross paths in several ways. There's

  • Poetry on the Brain - Helen Mort's Neuroscience-inspired approach
  • Your Brain on Fiction - a New York Times article about brain scans and novels. "when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like 'The singer had a velvet voice' ... roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like 'The singer had a pleasing voice' ... did not". "individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective"
  • Psychology, psychiatry and writers, which is more to do with mental health

I didn't realise there was a discipline called "Medical Humanities". According to the wikipedia entry, "The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, our responsibility to each other, and offer a historical perspective on medical practice. Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection - skills that are essential for humane medical care."

It sounds like an excuse to watch "Gray's Anatomy" rather than go to lectures. To give you a flavour of the more academic approach, here's the start of the abstract of "Illness narratives: reliability, authenticity and the empathic witness" from Med Humanities 2011;37 - "Several scholarly trends, such as narrative medicine, patient-centered and relationship-centered care, have long advocated for the value of the patient's voice in the practice of medicine. As theories of textual analysis are applied to the understanding of stories of illness, doctors and scholars have the opportunity to develop more nuanced and multifaceted appreciation for these accounts. We realize, for example, that a patient's story is rarely 'just a story,' but is rather the conscious and unconscious representation and performance of intricate personal motives and dominant meta-narrative influences."

There's also Hektoen International (a journal about medical humanities). Literature, Arts and Medicine Blog looks interesting too.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Two articles about the state of literature and publishing

From a newspaper description of a program tonight: "A 31-year-old amateur poet from Bournemouth discusses his difficulties dating". The word "amateur" reveals the difference between the public perception of literary writers and the harsh reality. Here are 2 recent reality-articles that are well worth a read -

  • Poetry and Tribalism - Jon Stone's examination of poetry factions. He finishes by writing "Our collective responsibility, I think, is to change the mainstream without destroying it - or worse, replacing it with something similarly flawed."
  • The real story: publishing, four and a half years on - Sharon Blackie, of Two Ravens Press, writes about sales, marketing, blogs, reviews, money and motivation - "Even though our sales through Amazon, for example, go out at the highest discounts we ever give, we love them. Because they represent firm sales, and they never come back again." ... "We’ve had e-books for a couple of years now, sold through our website and also fully distributed through a major wholesaler, and our bestselling e-book has sold about ten copies."

Monday 2 April 2012

Interview with Joel Lane

I've posted an interview with Joel Lane, poet and story/novel writer. Our paths have crossed in many magazines.