The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the ASGBI, is not known for its contribution to medical humanities. Things may change however in this most serious-minded and conservative of organisations. First the "wives' social programme" was changed to the "accompanying persons' social programme" at its Annual General Meeting, which is taking place this year at the old Manchester Central station now re-done as a conference centre. It used to be part scientific update (if you got round to going into the lectures), or part/all a nice social jolly for all the old boys to meet up and boast about their prowess this year. It continues in this vein, with its annual golf competition a prized prize, and the Annual Dinner a famed spot for networking and observing well-known figures undone by the old medical school poison. However, winds of change are slowly whispering. In 2004 an art and photographic display was introduced. By surgeons and their partners. Of course, being surgeons, they had to have a competition. I don't know what happened at that one, but it was dropped for a year. However, the photography competition was reinstated in 06 with a poetry competition which is on again this year.
The winning entries in the poetry were of a rather familiar joke variety, the kind of joke my 4 year old would appreciate, the "Colonoscopy Anthem" and the "Ode to a Pitts S2A"
However, the winning photograph was poignant and beautiful
so there is some hope that the poetry will get taken more seriously in time. Perhaps photography is just less embarrassing a prize to win.
Sadly, it is only open to Members of the ASGBI or associated societies, or anyone attending the Annual Meeting (at a cost of approx £200 a day. So fairly exclusive, then) - but it is there. If you are interested and fulfil the above requirements, the closing date is Monday. It would be nice if they opened it to medical students as well. Perhaps the quality of entry would improve...
and the poetry http://www.asgbi.org.uk/manchester/pages/competitions/poetry.htm
There is a serious category of entry and a humourous one. I hope for some inspiration over the weekend. Perhaps one should write it first before deciding whether it is funny, or leave that to the judges (who are they? what poetry experts have they hidden in their ranks?) Maybe that is why they have said categories. They wish the author to make that judgement and save them from the excruciating situation of awarding the humourous prize to a serious entrant.
I wonder how many Annual General Meetings we are away from having this collection of surgeons hear some seriously well-written poetry to leaven their/our diet of acrid coffee, hangovers and information overload? Mr Abse, fancy a trip to Manchester?