Author Tags: Physician Author

Dr. Lynn Holden graduated from UVic (BScHonours) in 1970 and from UBC Medical School in 1974. Three months after beginning to practice as a GP, the fatigue she had felt as an intern became clinical depression. For the next forty years she was repeatedly hospitalized. Nevertheless, she worked at times, but with difficulty, due to the attitudes of some of her colleagues.

In 1991 she left medical practice and Vancouver and moved to Gabriola Island. A selection of her poems appear in “Undercurrents,” an anthology of writings of the members of the Gabriola Women Writers’ Group. “My medical education and its accompanying optimism for a rewarding career were so special," says Dr. Holden, "that I would do everything the same again even knowing the outcome. I tend to write when my feelings are raw and near the surface. My poems in Undercurrents” were chosen by the Writers’ Group because they were short and sort of on the sad side, where I happened to be. They are both untitled.”

[Entry facilitated by George Szasz]


Undercurrents – a second selection – Gabriola Women Writers’ Group (Potluck Press, Gabriola Island, 1995)

A Requiem for Lynn – a book of poems Printorium Bookworks 2016) 978-1-77136-438-6.

[BCBW 2016]

A sense of closure

For some time now I have been hoping to identify BC physicians with published literary works to their name. My opportunity came when Alan Twigg established a Physician Author category in his www.abcbookworld.com public web based reference site with information on close to 12,000 BC authors. Searching through his website I found more than 70 physicians and their works already registered. I placed an ad in the BC Medical Journal for more physician authors to come forward and soon I heard from another 20 physicians.

Among others, I received an email from Dr. Lynn Holden, whom I had known way back in the early 1970s when she was a medical student attending some of my classes. She sent along an anthology published by the Gabriola Women Writers’ Group – which included two of her poems. I was struck both by the imagery and rhythm of the two short poems and by their marked down mood. I asked her if she could explain what her thoughts were behind her poems. She then sent me some 30 unpublished poems, each imaginative, clever, rich with imagery – but reflecting deep sadness – even hopes for death. In the accompanying note she explained that she had suffered recurrent episodes of severe depression over the years, preventing her from fulfilling her life long ambition to practice medicine and specifically, to specialize in neurology. She wrote that she became broken and old and bitter and while she could get over the broken and old parts, the bitter feelings still hounded her. She received great care from her family physicians and her psychiatrist, but she felt abandoned by all her medical friends, all the doctors with whom or for whom she worked. She wrote: ”I cannot put into words the devastation I have felt from that rejection”.

I knew that the abcbookworld website was for authors or editors of published literary works and not for authors of a couple of small items in an anthology. So when I approached Mr. Twigg and he said in his soft hearted way “OK, but don’t do it again” – I was delighted to include the anthology and so was Dr. Holden.

Unfortunately the delight lasted only so long: she took her own life a few weeks before Christmas in December 2015. I felt terribly sad. What a loss. I learned from her family and friends that between her depressive episodes she was such a talented and vibrant person: she sang, played the trumpet and the piano, she excelled in highland dancing, she was a great cook, and generous and kind to friends and neighbours. She wrote virtually all of her poems while receiving treatments in various hospitals over the years. I was rereading her poems, several with clear message about hoping to leave this world. It occurred to me then that I could offer to “her”, to her family and to myself a bit of a closure if I could have her poems published and then go to Alan Twigg and say: “here is a book of poems by Dr. Lynn Holden, now we can legitimately find a place for her in the Physician Author category of abcbookworld”.

Having received support and permission from the family, I have arranged private publication of Dr. Holden’s poems. “.A requiem for Lynn – a book of poems” ISBN 978-1-77136-438-6. – 52 pages, private publication by Printorium Bookworks 2016 Now Dr. Lynn Holden’s listing in the abcbookworld Physician Authors section will be legit. I hope Lynn Holden is resting in peace. I hope the family will have yet another tangible evidence of Lynn’s talents. I will have a sense of closure.

-- George Szasz.