Richmond, Va.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New journal debuts, explores the art of medicine

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

A new journal, the Medical Literary Messenger, has debuted. It is the brainchild of Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., associate hospital epidemiologist and professor of internal medicine, epidemiology and community medicine in the School of Medicine.

“I have been thinking about creating a medical literary magazine at VCU for years,” said Bearman, who noted that the Department of Internal Medicine for many years published a print magazine, Between Rounds, which is now defunct. “I felt it necessary to both satisfy my literary needs and to resuscitate a medical-literary forum at VCU.”

Envisioned as an artistic voice for the healing arts, the debut issue features the work of nearly two dozen contributors. Works include photography, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and even anatomical drawings based on the artist’s trips to the gross anatomy labs of anatomy professor Hugo Seibel, Ph.D., who is now retired.

The new journal will be published twice a year in a cost-effective electronic format to satisfy Bearman’s desire that it be freely accessible and downloadable by all. “In an electronic format, and with the use of social media, the Medical Literary Messenger allows us to have a much more expansive reach and attract a greater diversity of writers,” he said.

Bearman set about assembling a volunteer editorial team from the VCU Medical Center that includes faculty, staff and students. “It took us about one year to get the project off the ground,” Bearman said. “The Medical Literary Messenger is very much a labor of love for all of us.”

The response to the journal’s call for submissions yielded a quality and quantity of work that thrilled the editorial team and guaranteed a competitive selection process.

The authors and artists featured in the debut issue include some, such as Robert Eastwood, who have published extensively. Eastwood, who has two poems featured in the issue, is a recipient of the Berkeley Poets’ Dinner Grand Prize and the Ina Coolbrith Circle Grand Prize and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, an American literary prize that honors works published by small presses.

Another contributor is emergency room nurse Stacy R. Nigliazzo, whose poetry has appeared in numerous journals including JAMA, Third Space and the Bellevue Literary Review. She recently published a book of poetry, “Scissored Moon.”

The inaugural issue’s authors and artists also include a number with ties to VCU and to its School of Medicine.

“The experience of illness, wellness, health and medicine is nuanced, personal and shaped by innumerable factors. We hope to explore these perspectives and the art of medicine by way of the essays, stories, poems and images submitted to the Medical Literary Messenger,” Bearman said. “By making the MLM an open access publication, we hope to share our medical-literary experience with a diversity of readers.”

The Medical Literary Messenger is among a cadre of medical literary projects based in the nation’s medical schools, such as the University of Virginia’s “Hospital Drive” and the University of New Mexico’s “Medical Muse.”

You can find the inaugural issue of the Medical Literary Messenger online.


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A pair of ink drawings by David J. Bromley are featured in the Medical Literary Messenger's debut issue. The above arm dissection was based on the artist's trips to Dr. Hugo Seibel's gross anatomy lab.
Gonzalo Bearman, M.D.
Bryan Jarrett, a member of the School of Medicine's Class of 2014, took the photo that is on the cover of the inaugural issue of the Medical Literary Messenger.