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Famous Reporter # 34
 

 

 

JOHN WEST

At the launch of Verbal Medicine

 "Verbal Medicine" Ed. Tim Metcalf, Ginninderra Press 2006
Launched at Collected Works Bookshop Saturday 8th July

I was pleased to be able to play a small part in the Melbourne launch of Verbal Medicine, principally by bringing Kris Hemmensley of Collected Works and Tim together; the rest fell into place, oiled by the easy patience of those twin city institutions, Kris and Loretta. Jack Hibberd was there to read a poem about his father's death; I was told that this was the first time he had read in public for several years. Yes, Tim's enthusiasm was contagious, as befits a medical person, as many of the contributors are, Peter Goldsworthy the best known after GP Jack Hibberd. This apparent weighting is due to the aim Tim had when he first planned the anthology; it was to bring together Science and Humanity and to align Medical practice with the broader shift towards the treatment of the whole person, the "holistic" approach, which has taken off like a benign bush fire across Australia and the world. And there are some well-credentialed people amongst them, including, but not exclusively, Jennifer Harrison as a Psychoanalyst, Robin Rowland AO, Clinical Psychologist and John Miles Little, Professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine at Sydney University. It seemed that all Victorian contributors were present to read their work, with the exception of Jennifer Harrison who was in Turkey. Lyndon Walker, Doris Brett, Robyn Rowland, Jack Hibberd and Joyce Lee all read. The wine flowed, the speeches were made, contributors read and so it went, the only pot-hole for the day being the need for one poet to break the window of his own car when he found himself keyless and with the stop-watch ticking! He must have been caught up in Tim's enthusiasm! My advice, however, is to take the story with a spoonful of salt (sorry, docs.) as it is almost certainly apocryphal. The greatest joy for me on the day, after meeting and talking with the contributors, was to meet Tim and his family and to have them buy me a coffee in Fed Square where we sat, all too briefly, before we had to split up, aiming for our separate destinations, myself to return to work and Tim to officially launch Verbal Medicine on 30th of July in Byron Bay, at the inaugural conference of the Association of Medical Humanities (ANZ) called Taking Heart". I recommend Verbal Medicine very highly, not merely for clinical practitioners, but for anyone interested in helping to create the atmosphere where those practitioners are no longer permitted to forget the humanity of the patient before them.

 

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