INTIMA: A JOURNAL OF NARRATIVE MEDICINE
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
Welcome to the Spring 2017 issue of Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. We invite you into the issue with open arms and a directive to sit down and read one of the works of our contributors. Our current times require an intense focus on whatever comes our way, and as editors, we know how essential it is to look closely at each work submitted, giving it our deepest concentration and consideration. What was surprising this go round were the hundreds of poems that came in—close to half of the 434 submissions we received.
We stopped and asked ourselves: Why poetry? Why now? Stumped, we turned to our master muse, physician and poet William Carlos Williams, and found a line in his poem “The Fault: Matisse” that gave us an answer:
is a picture
to the employing eye
that feeds restlessly to
We are so fortunate to be able to publish the work of so many “employing eyes,” which have taken on the task of creating and chronicling narratives about healthcare, illness, and the clinical encounter. Great art and literature gives us the chance to find peace in the new meaning a story or a painting provides us, and with so many distractions in the world with its cacophony of noise and news, why not silence the hullabaloo for a minute and drink in one of the 59 "moments" we present in this issue?
How about a haiku or two in “Carnival of Rust: Haiku Sequence,” by Lala Tanmoy Das, a NYC healthcare and pharmaceutical consultant. You might want to peruse one of the three poems we accepted from New Zealand clincian Sarah Shirley, who is in her final year at medical school yet found time to write “Wernicke-Korsakoff,” “Osteosarcoma,” and "Palliation.” Or why not try an elegy of sorts, entitled “A Vacancy of Wings,” by poet, writer and teacher Samantha Barrow, who directs the Medical Humanities program at the Sophie Davis/CUNY School of Medicine? The poem captures a daughter’s sudden realization about her father as she watches him swimming.
And what list of poems would be complete without a love poem, such as “Heart Transplant,” a poem by clinical research associate Schneider Rancy?
Essays—what we call “Field Notes” at Intima—as well as Non-Fiction, Academic, Studio Art and Fiction populate this issue. Detroit obstetrician Andrea Eisenberg, for example, takes us along for a chilly, crack-of-dawn drive in “20 Minutes” where she transitions from “my life to my patients', from my needs to theirs.” Writer Sean Murphy sent us two points of view on being the healthy companion to others who are ill: a story entitled, “Waiting” that describes the well-known feelings we've all had waiting for a loved one to get to the recovery room, and a non-fiction essay, “Machinery,” exploring his very physical reaction to his mother’s diagnosis.
One piece we urge you to read is David Hilden’s cheerfully unnerving essay, entitled, “Don’t Worry! At Least We Will Die Together!” We watch the author, an internal medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, as he walks through tear gas in the Old City of Jerusalem with eight Palestinian medical students during a 2015 trip to the Middle East. You won’t be absolutely sure when you finish the essay whether the tears in your eyes are tears of laughter or sorrow about the state of the world.
Yet we are buoyed by the way “art lets truth originate,” a quote from Heidegger that we heard recently in a talk that Dr. Rita Charon gave in The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities at Columbia University Medical Center. We feel that each of our Spring 2017 pieces works to initiate truths that provide meaning to our experiences in sickness and in health. We invite you again: Please repose on your couch and enjoy the work. (Feel free to read it on your phone while standing on the subway too.)—Donna Bulseco for the Editors