by Francis Christian
Dr. Francis Christian’s poetry offers breadth and diversity to the intimate connection between art and health that is core to HARP’s mission. Through his writing he enters profoundly into the bodies and minds and souls of suffering humanity, juxtaposing unconditional love with moments of telling irony. His longer poems recount stories of sensuality and beauty, evoking biblical and classical images, and exploring humanity’s very origins, wanderings, and often hidden purpose.
Francis Christian is a poet and a surgeon — the former ever since his adolescence and throughout his adult life; the latter, an aspiration and a goal ever since he entered medical school. After completing his medical and surgical training in India and in England, he did further surgical training in Canada and is now Clinical Professor of Surgery in Saskatoon, a city in Western Canada.
Dr. Christian regards poetry and surgery as the right and left arms of his existence. He is the co-founder and director of the Surgical Humanities Program in the University of Saskatchewan. The program seeks to engage medical students, residents, and surgeons with the humanities in a way that enriches and informs their practice of medicine. He is also the editor of the Journal of The Surgical Humanities.
Francis Christian says of his poetry: “Such consequential and searing experiences as love and beauty in our universe, must have the thread of eternity running through them. A certain deep sensibility, like notes however faintly heard from an Angel’s harp, assures us that this is so. I hope my poems will awaken for the reader this precious sensibility, never far from us and always reminding us of that which we cannot yet clearly see.”
Praise for To A Nurse Friend Weeping
With this book of poems, Francis Christian reveals an inner sensibility that is rarely expressed by members of our trade. It is precisely that humanistic sensibility that needs to be an integral part of the practice of surgery. Medicine is a profession of service to others — our patients. Incorporating a humanistic approach to this service is essential to us as surgeons and as human beings.
Ivar Mendez, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS, FCAHS
F.H. Wigmore Professor and Provincial Head of Surgery
University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Health Authority
Francis Christian has put together a wonderful collection of poems. It is not just that they embody the rarest thing in poetry: an original voice. It is their vigour and variety that so impresses: his very sensitive love poems side by side with poems that tremble with an awareness of human suffering, as well as deeply religious poems that come as a refreshing surprise in the brutally realistic landscape that we all inhabit in these “no nonsense’’ times. Francis Christian has a real lyrical gift, but it is lyricism with an iron core. His poems do not plead for our attention but speak full out with the authority of a dedicated artist. We are fortunate indeed to have such a poet in our midst.
Henry Woolf, Shakespearean actor
Francis Christian in his book of poems gives us the mind of a man who has created a welcome fusion between the disciplines of the sciences and the humanities through a Christian vision of the world. These poems speak of an evolving world, wherein our human nature continues to struggle with the irony of good and evil, and to live the story of the Fall and Redemption. Within this framework the poems describe in vivid detail the ecstasy of making love and the tragedy of the ravages of war. There is also space within the broad reach of the book to celebrate the landscapes of Canada, and the bravery of a little bird that winters over in the frozen north, to scorn the Mustang and deny the I-phone, to praise the beauty in our world and in our lives. In short, the book represents the thinking of a poet who brings to life the theology of the Incarnation.
Professor Robert Sider – Dickinson University and
University of Saskatchewan. Classical scholar, author,
translator into English of the complete works of Erasmus