Category: Op-Eds

Op-eds are a collection of opinion editorials, or guest blogs, by Jano Klimas, published in online media or magazines. As such, they express his opinions and are not the opinions of the publication’s editorial board.

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Farewell Thursdays Writing Collective

Thursdays

With the end of the Thursdays Writing Collective coming soon in April 2018, I’ve decided to re-post my earlier blog from 2016 about this unique collective.

Discovering Thursdays Writing Collective

During each session, we spend half the time writing in response to prompts and the other half, especially before group performances, workshopping pieces and instructing fellow writers about time, place, format, and so on. However, I quickly found out that the collective is so much more than a writing group. It’s a true creative hub. Published authors visit frequently. Kate Braid, the poet, and her friend, Clyde Reed, a jazz musician, came to read us their poetry and improvised with a double bass on the spot. Clyde allowed us to read our own pieces while he played his mesmerising bass to accompany our words.

At most meetings, we share books and poems by authors we revere and it always serves to be an enlightening experience. For example, we discussed the Devil in Deerskins, by Katherine Swarthile, whose work is among the earliest published mementos on the first nations’ themes. Katherine Swarthile, the daughter of Anahareao, actually visited us. Her environmental message to the group gave further impetus and context to her book, which we all read in anticipation of her visit.

We also receive regular invitations to read poetry at spoken word events around town, including the Verses Festival and the Vancouver Poetry Slam. The Vancouver Co-op radio offered us spots on their poetry show Wax Poetix. Pamela Post, a journalist from the CBC national radio show, The Current, visited several times. She recorded hours of readings, including a story by one of our own, Henry Doyle, that documented our premiere concerts at University of British Columbia School of Music and the first encounter of Henry with composer Lucas Oickle.

Over time, I began to understand what it was that I couldn’t find anywhere else when I was searching for a writing group. The Collective acts as a single soul. My previous writing groups were wonderful places of exploration and were right for me at the time, but we rarely got together outside of class. This made it feel more like a language course where people mind their own business and go about their lives. However, Thursday’s Collective is a community. We chat during breaks, nibbling at fruit and veggies. The volunteers work hard in the background and keep us informed on new developments. Thanks to fees from the paid classes, they are able to do unpaid classes for people in shelters, prisons, or treatment centres. The members of the Collective have input into the decisions about the performances that we take part in, cash for readers, and choice of projects. Democratic votes about these decisions follow after group discussions. If someone read at a recent event, another writer is encouraged to read next. It reminds me of one of those artist collectives one might read about from the past, where creatives managed their own promotions and shared the same building, using it for studios and shows.

The Collective is a unified community of creative minds.

We are like a band with a leader who sets the tone, direction, and vision. Elee Kralji Gardiner—writer and editor—was this leader until 2016. Elee was our facilitator, manager, and director. Elee unified the Collective at the meetings and did a tremendous amount of work in the background, outside the meetings, to help us grow our work and allow the collective to thrive. With Elee at the helm, every year, the Collective also publishes an anthology. Last year’s (2014) theme was Music and Art Song.

In the history of music, Art Song played an important role. Loosely defined as a musicalized poem, typically performed by a singer and a piano, this form of music combines the work of a poet, composer, singer, and pianist into a stand-alone artistic statement. UBC graduate composers have set eleven of our poems to music, and their fellow student singers and pianists performed them at two April premieres in the UBC Roy Barnett Hall and St James Anglican Church at Cordova Street. The poets introduced their work and read the text before each performance.

We launched the “Voice to Voice” – our art song anthology – at the end of June 2015 in the Lost & Found Café. The book contained not only art songs, but also poems, stories, songs, and memoirs by our writers. An Indiegogo campaign funded the book and others supported it in many ways, including the Canada Council for the Arts, UBC School of Music, Peter Wall Centre, Instruments of Change, Carnegie Community Centre and SFU’s Writer’s Studio. Dwayne Woloshyn painted the book cover praised in the Keremeos Review magazine.

From September 2016, we launched a year of Visualizing the Word, which means writing about visual art, inspiring it and getting inspiration from it, under the new director, Amber Dawn – our alumni – and co-facilitators Curtis and Cara.

 

If you liked reading this blog, you may also like to read the following posts about:

Thank you all Thursday-ers.

Bring Audrey back: Teaching medical students about substance disorders

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When is the best time to teach medical students about substance related disorders?  In a new commentary published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, we bring Audrey’s story and call for better addiction medicine education for physicians.

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For over 20 years, the first year medical students have had 20 hours of teaching on the theme Addiction Medicine and Inter-collegial Responsibility (AMIR) which has been both highly rated by medical students and has improved their OSCE test scores for motivational interviewing. In the first session of the course, Audrey and other volunteer guest speakers with lived experience tell their stories.

Last Friday, Audrey stood up in front of over 200 medical students to bravely recount a life history the students can identify with – middle class upbringing, working in bars overseas as a fun gap-year. Then she plunges into her journey and takes the students with her through running from boyfriends, heroin initiation, culminating in being chained to a radiator for months while pregnant. Her positive encounters with health-care providers turn things around. She had been in recovery for years when she sought a paediatrician for her son’s care. In the first interview, the paediatrician revealed that she knew Audrey. She had attended the AMIR session nine years prior and upon hearing Audrey’s story had decided that day to become a paediatrician. The two women sobbed together in the office, each one’s journey affecting the other. … Read the full commentary here

1. Crowley R, et al. http://annals.org/aim/article/2613555/health-public-policy-facilitate-effective-prevention-treatment-substance-use-disorders. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017.

Suggested citation: Klimas, J., Rieb, L. Bring Audrey Back. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017.

Recipe for untangling complex healthcare

Physicians tackle difficult addictions

Recipe for untangling complex healthcare.

So there he was, with the boy’s head in his hands. The boy was 12, but looked no more than 10 years old. He was deeply jaundiced and in a heroin withdrawal. It was 1981; Fergus O’Kelly was a family physician in the inner city Dublin, Ireland.

photocredit: journals.cambridge.org

 

Complex interventions are best fashioned in stages, says the Medical Research Council in the U.K. They came up with a 6-step recipe for untangling complex health interventions. The recipe can help those of us who are researchers define their interventions and evaluate their implementation.

Substance use disorder treatment is a complex problem. Complex problems require complex interventions, ideally tested via randomised controlled trials.

Complex interventions are best developed in stages, using established implementation frameworks.

Starting with a historical patient case study, we explore how treatment of this challenging population group has been approached, how an evidence-based framework has informed formulation of a complex health intervention and how this has been progressed via the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) approach.

Read the paper in the December 2018 issue of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine:
Klimas, J. (2018). General practitioners tackle complex addictions: How complex interventions can assist in dealing with addiction. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 35(4), 329-331. doi:10.1017/ipm.2016.30

 

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=IPM&tab=firstview

The paper was first published online in August 2016.

The case study of the boy mentioned at the beginning was published in 1986 in this paper: RyanWJArthursYKellyMGFieldingJF (1982). Heroin abuse with hepatitis b virus associated chronic active hepatitis in a twelve-year-old child: a non-fictitious pulitzer prizeIrish Medical Journal 75166. Google Scholar

Read the full text of the case here: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/34711593.pdf

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, you can also read more about complex problems here:

Users voices: Are drug problems too complex and dynamic for single magic bullet solutions?

Discovering Thursdays Writing Collective

Thursdays
When I first arrived in Vancouver, Canada, I was desperate to join a writing collective. My experience with the Dublin’s Writers Forum and the Oregon’s Write Around Portland taught me the power of writing groups. I observed that collective writing fosters motivation and provides a way out of the isolation that this solitary activity can otherwise induce, making writing communal. It shows that though we’re able to write alone, we don’t have to. We can write together, too, and this changes the stereotype—and daunting nature—of being a solitary writer!
 
 
photocredit: thursdayswritingcollective.ca