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Two weeks left to submit entries for medical prose awards

Listening to Abraham Verghese, MD, speak recently about his dual identities as doctor and author put me in the mood for some medical prose.

Fortunately, there's the Bellevue Literary Review, published twice a year by the NYU Langone Medical Center. The entries can tend toward the morose - see “Tumor” (.pdf) and "Sick" (.pdf) - but a good number are worth the read, including this haunting poem, "The Bottom Drawer," by Amanda Auchter:

Tucked beneath my mother's shirts
and camisoles, a paper bag
of prayer cards, I find
my brother's pajamas. I want
to take them out, understand
how she can spend an afternoon
in an empty house with them. Her
at the table with a cup of tea,
raising the sleeve to her cheek,
her nose, thinking of him, how
she kissed his stubbled cheek, closed
each eyelid. I wonder if she wears them,
or how often, if at night she slips
into bed with the shirt, cradles him
back into her. I unfold them
on the bed for her to find, spread out
as though he was still there, brushing
his teeth, water running in the bathroom,
a blue towel shook dry. Each arm uncrossed
and flattened, the flannel pants draped
over the bed as though someone meant
to wear them, but chose something else instead.

Have something to say related to the themes of health, healing, illness, body and mind? Submit it to the BLR, and you might even get some money for it. The review each year offers three $1,000 prizes in the categories of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The deadline by which to apply for 2011 awards is July 1; winners will be announced by the end of December.

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