Rhythm and rhyme inspire rheumatology researcher

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019

Professor Ian Wicks_WEHI

Professor Ian Wicks

All publications in top-tier academic journals are a cause for excitement but it isn’t just his research that scores Professor Ian Wicks pages in JAMA and Annals of Internal Medicine.

Professor Wicks, head of rheumatology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne and joint head of clinical translation at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is also a keen, part-time poet.

Professor Wicks told the limbic he has been writing poetry – mainly on medical themes – for the last few years.

His latest work All Hands has just been published in the Poetry and Medicine section of JAMA.

A series of poems on the five senses – were published over five editions in JAMA in 2017 and included as a collection in The Best Australian Science Writing 2018.

He has also had his poetry published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Australian Poetry Journal, Grieve and the Cordite Poetry Review.


Group of eight

small bones, with esoteric names,

such as scaphoid, lunate and triquetrum,

arranged in rows, like stepping stones

between the long forearm bones

and the short metacarpal rays.

Tethered together in a pact

to transact the near infinite mobility

of our most dextrous hands—

left and right,

where four fingers, each with two break points

and an opposable thumb with one,

extend from two eminences and a palmar arch

creased with lifelines;

where the newborn’s instinctive grasp

became the precise hands of toolmakers

and master craftsmen,

the deft hands of universal predators,

now hand in hand

as archons of the food chain,

dazzling technocrats, and weather makers—

on a singular blue planet,

where an upright tetrapod’s masterful wrists

anchor nimble digits

as they flex and extend, grip and rotate,

all with fine touch arrayed

on ten fingertips.

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