We will be meeting in Woodbridge tomorrow to discuss 'Transcendent Kingdom' by Yaa Gyasi, a fascinating novel which explores a wide variety of themes including the relationship between science and faith. It will be interesting to discover what we all think of it (if you haven't done so already, please email to let me know if you are coming to the meeting). 

On a slightly different tack, but looking at how science and the arts can work in tandem, I was interested to read an article in The Observer last week about a surgeon in Portugal who is encouraging his students to read poetry in order to better understand and empathise with their patients.

Joao Luis Barreto Guimaraes haș launched a course in the fundamentals of modern poetry at Porto University's medical facility. He wants students to connect holistically with their future patients, instead of viewing them as a medical problem to solve.

A published poet himself, he has drawn on other poet-medics for the course reading list (the only one I recognise is William Carlos Williams, an American paediatrician). But also introduces poems which are overtly offering students a concise but powerful understanding of the patient experience. For example, there's Wendy Cope's poem 'Names' (in her collection 'Serious Concerns') which I find incredibly moving. And John Stone's poem 'Talking to the Family'.

In the newspaper article, Guimaraes says: 'These days doctors often don't have time to stop and think, so everything gets reduced to the technical and mechanical. What I try to convey to the students is that, as with a poem, each of their patients is unique.'

Thank you for reading.