Gwen Harwood’s “Bone Scan” will always have a place in my heart when it comes to my inspiration for teaching Literature and my abiding interest in the humanities. Growing up in Singapore, the educational environment I was in did not prioritize literature and the humanities very much, and math and science were the core subjects that we were expected to focus on.

However, when I was 18, I had a literature teacher who taught and prepared us to appreciate unseen poetry for the A levels and among the poems she introduced us to was “Bone Scan,” which we later realized was her way of explaining her long absence from the classroom near our national exams. She was struggling with cancer and her teaching allowed us to appreciate that the poem’s use of the word “scintillating” and the use of sibilants represented her desire to regard her struggle with cancer as a positive and hopeful journey rather than one to think about negatively and pessimistically. Although she eventually passed on, her influence continues to inspire me to be a better teacher and reader of literature, and continues to remind me of the importance of being attentive and committed to the text before us. I continue to return to “Bone Scan” and think how we approach, study, encounter, and teach literature reflects how we approach, encounter, and interact with others in our lives as well.

– Eunice Ying Ci Lim (Ph.D. Candidate, Pennsylvania State University, Comparative Literature and Asian Studies)