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Dec. 17, 2019

I’m in my bed recovering from a bug that has knocked me flat. Before this, it got the rest of the family and, from the word on the street, people are taking weeks to recover. While I’m in this nowhere space I thought it was a good time to produce the next blog. I have just finished the next leg of the Masters at Manchester Metropolitan University. We had a writing workshop with the former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. It was an exhilarating experience. A bunch of lovely talented writers submitted work and we offered each other useful feedback together with the pearls of wisdom from Carol Ann. She is the most encouraging and supportive teacher. One of the things she did was task us with writing a specific form, Sonnet, Sestina etc. as an exercise in process and shaping.

Sestinas are strange animals. Invented by Arnaut Daniel in the twelfth century and taken up by the troubadours to show off their mastery. They are lively and complex and witty. Seven stanzas, thirty-nine lines using six keywords at the end of each line of the stanza. This pattern repeats in each subsequent stanza in a revolving manner.

At the same time, I was invited to speak to a Pathologist Conference as a patient advocate. As part of that conference, they spoke about a piece of research in the UK which sought to discover the public’s perception of pathologists. There were some keywords in the research which I took as my keywords in the Sestina.

Coincidentally, last year there was an extraordinary exhibition of sculptures in the Maeght Foundation, St Paul du Vance, created by Jan Fabre made from Carrera marble of brains. I have included one of them.

So, as usual, read, enjoy, share, send some feedback.

Dec. 17, 2019

Emilia Fox, up to her elbows in death,
focuses on the cadaver for a diagnosis;
her sharp nose detects blood
as she treads through a crime
scene; she catalogues disease
and the victim’s genetics.

Words and pathologists - genetics
has low association compared to death,
which is the word, though diagnosis
features too, also rated is blood.
On telly, adventures of crime
star pathologists, not disease.

In truth, pathologists focus on disease;
consider our genetics;
serve life rather than death;
are seventy percent part of all diagnoses;
particularly successful in blood
illnesses; spend very little time on crime.

They focus on petrie dishes, not crime;
their microscope skills identify disease;
contribute to research in genetics;
reduce incidences of death.
Without them there’d be few diagnoses
that save, or, help with disorders of blood.

Haematologists work successfully with blood
that is cancerous, are not involved with crime;
help with those rare conditions and diseases
caused by a predisposition in genetics.
Their work prevents death,
using their great skill in diagnosis.

The State - involved in diagnosis,
because failures in reporting of blood
sample analyses, possibly a crime -
faced the anger of patients with diseases
that were not part of their genetics.
It probably caused premature deaths.

Unlike Emilia, very few, work with death
or crime. Their gifts are diagnosis, managing
blood diseases and repairing genetics.

Peter Clarke 2019