A Rooster for Asclepius: The Toronto Health Humanities Writing Group*
A new monthly health humanities workshop, focused on improving narrative medicine skills through creative and reflective writing, close reading of health-related writing, sharing and reflection on participant work, and ongoing discussion of the goals and methods of narrative-based medicine.
Physicians and health practitioners from other clinical fields interested in collaborating to deepen their involvement in health humanities are encouraged to apply to join this new group. Space permitting, scholars, practitioners and theorists from arts and humanities disciplines with an interest in the culture of medicine and healthcare, are also invited to apply.
Typical workshop sessions will include some combination of: in-class writing exercises; discussion of a published health-related piece (short story, personal essay, etc.); discussion of theory and practice of narrative medicine as related and experienced by participants; sharing of written work by participants with guided feedback on same; visits by guest speakers working in other artistic genres and cognate fields. There will also be ongoing discussion of and collaboration on related opportunities and events in the health humanities.
This is a workshop rather than a class—an ongoing collaborative effort—and one of the principal aims is to foster a creative and supportive narrative community in the GTA.
Between sessions, reading, writing and discussion will continue via an online forum/discussion board.
Space is limited, so please make sure you can commit to this writing group. Refunds will not be issued.
Time and Location:
Workshop sessions will be 3 hours in length, held in the evening.
Meetings will take place on the third Wednesday of each month from September to May.
$200 (membership fee for one academic year). Some spaces for residents and doctoral students will be made available free of charge.
Damian Tarnopolsky has taught courses in Narrative Medicine at the Centre for Faculty Development at St. Michael’s Hospital for several years, and led writing and reflection workshops for medical students and residents as the Barbara Moon Fellow at Massey College from 2016-19. His books, Goya’s Dog and Lanzmann and Stories, have been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and the ReLit Award, among others, and his play The Defence won the 2019 Voaden Prize. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto and has taught at Humber College and the School of Continuing Studies, where he was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching award. He works at Slingsby and Dixon, an editorial services company in Toronto.
How to apply:
Choose a health-related subject and write a 500-1000 word short story, personal essay, poem/poems, dramatic scene, graphic medicine comic, or a piece in another genre of your choice. Send your submission as a PDF or Word document to Damian Tarnopolsky at email@example.com You will receive a response shortly thereafter.
*About the name of our writing group:
“Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius – pay it. Don’t forget.” – Plato, Phaedo, 118
As he went to face his death after being condemned by the Athenians, Socrates enjoined his friends to make a sacrifice to Asclepius, god of healing. It’s likely that with his last words he meant to say that he was grateful to be cured of the disease of life, and to pass into a realm of truth. It’s possible, however, that he was speaking ironically.