Wednesday, July 26, 2006

When "Scrubs" Isn't Enough

One of the side-effects of volunteering in a hospital is that I've become a pathetic medical groupie (which is why you'll find medical blogs in my sidebars). Every Tuesday, there's a round-up of the best of the medical blogosphere from the previous week, called Grand Rounds. It's hosted at a different site each time; this week, it's over at Medical Humanities.

I haven't had time to read most of this week's posts yet, but they look fascinating, as usual. I'm hoping that I'll be able to blog a bit about my own hospital work, but there are extremely strict privacy/confidentiality standards -- for obvious reasons -- so I'm trying to map out the boundaries of what I'm allowed to say. I think it should be okay if I talk only about broad theological and theoretical issues, with no specific references at all to patients or staff, but I've e-mailed the volunteer coordinator just to make sure.

It's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission, but it's easier to ask permission than to lose a cherished gig because you crossed a line.


  1. Anonymous8:35 AM

    I'd love to see you write a Science Fiction poem about your hospital experiences, mutated enough for both confidentiality and genre.

    Great blog! It was the Nielsen Haydens who persuaded me to make my own blog:

  2. Thanks! Any reason you suggested a poem and not fiction?

    My one conscious effort to write SF incorporating the hospital ministry isn't working yet, although I hope it will eventually. I think it's a classic case of being too close to the material. But I'm sure the experience will bubble up in my work somehow, undoubtedly in a weirdly mutated form.

  3. Anonymous7:48 AM

    I thought that a poem would give you more license for extreme subjectivity, and less need for photorealism.

    Then there's your history, as in: "... These two statements contain major claims for SF poetry and for its practitioners; and it is appropriate that they were penned by Joron and Frazier. With Bruce Boston, Elissa Malcohn, David Lunde, Susan Palwick, Roger Dutcher, myself, and others, these two poets have been at the front of recent attempts to develop a distinctive form and style: SF poetry, as opposed to fantasy poetry or science poetry...." from
    Dialogues by Starlight
    Three Approaches to Writing SF Poetry
    [This essay was presented as "Stanza by Starlight" to "Life, the Universe, and Everything" at Brigham Young University in 1988 and subsequently published in The Leading Edge (January 1989). A much revised version appeared in Patrick D. Murphy and Vernon Hyles' groundbreaking collection of essays, The Poetic Fantastic: Studies in an Evolving Genre (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). I have revised the original essay slightly and added several clarifying notes for StarShine and Shadows.] by Michael Collins, at

  4. Yes, you're probably right about the photorealism part (although that's also exactly what makes the hospital so compelling). I haven't regularly written poetry for years, although last Saturday I wrote a poem in honor of the feast day of Mary Magdalene. I suppose that might count as SF, depending on how you interpreted it!

    I remember a WisCon panel on magical realism I attended once, at which a Native American writer commented ruefully that whenever he wrote straightforwardly about the spiritual worldview of his culture, the writing got labeled "magical realism." He said, "To us, it's not magic: it's just realism." (And to my father, my homilies are SF!)


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