From the Editors 2013

A compilation of "letters" from the IRIS editors: Lee Hong (MS2), Jason Fishel (MS2), Jenny Shen (MS2), Elise Stephenson (MS1), and Yi Yang (MS1).

About IRIS

Having been on hiatus since 2005, IRIS is back.  We are reviving the collective creative spirit among the medical school sphere and revamping the platform on which to share these creative works by moving online, thus enabling us to publish multimedia in addition to the traditional categories of text and visual arts.

The following is what the original founders wanted to convey with the name IRIS:

iris: The multiple meanings of our title help represent the complexity of our mission. The Greek goddess Iris was a messenger of the gods and delivered their words to mortals. She gave her name to the rainbow, symbolic of the many voices that make up our publication. Artistically, she is often represented as winged and bearing a herald's staff, reminiscent of the caduceus, a Greek symbol of healing. The iris is also the name of two opposing sheets of muscle in the eye, which control the entry of light, much like the camera lens. The iris thus manipulates our visual impression of the surrounding world, even as its striking pigments help individualize us to that world. Finally, the iris is a family of handsome flowers, the roots of which produce orris oil, a medicinal agent in older traditions of healing.


"Letters" From the Editors

Her nails were painted pink.

I had unzipped the body bag, rolled the flap gingerly at her side, and stared. Here was the cadaver I was to cut and probe, and all I could see was her chipped nail polish.

When I decided to apply to medical school, all I could envision was the end result – of me in a long white coat holding my stethoscope to a patient’s chest. How clean, how sterile were my thoughts! I didn’t quite anticipate the spectrum of humanity that has, and continues, to bare itself to me as I continue my medical training. In those deeply vulnerable, overwhelming, intimate moments, I turned to writing.

But then I thought, I can’t be the only one who turns to art, to music, to creativity.

So, after a little bit of digging around through the Department of Social Medicine, I discovered IRIS, a literary and arts magazine that began in 1996 and was in print for several years until 2005. Bringing back IRIS as a forum for UNC School of Medicine affiliates to share their creative work became my passion since the summer of 2012, as I recruited fellow classmates as editors and Dr. Terrence Holt to become our faculty advisor. As submissions began to slowly filter in, I was tickled, enthralled, and humbled by the wit and wisdom that sprung forth.

Through the tireless and unrelenting dedication of Jenny Shen and Jason Fishel as writing editors, Elise Stephenson as visual arts editor, and Yi Yang as photography editor, I am proud to present the first online edition of IRIS. This issue is dedicated to the contributors, without whom IRIS would have only been a summer dream.

Finally, I leave you with a poem I wrote in the first few weeks of anatomy, entitled “Naked.”


You, with your gloves and scalpel,

see me as naked,

my cold body lying in the cold bag on top of the cold table in the cold lab.

You cover my face and my breasts and vagina with towels.

But in fact, it is your fear

that reveals your own nakedness.

- Lee Hong, MS2






- Yi Yang, MS1



To access this content, please revisit with a web browser that has the latest version of Adobe Flash Player installed.


“To Zanarkand” (ザナルカンドにて, Zanarukando nite) is the main theme from Final Fantasy X, originally composed by Nobuo Uematsu. It is one of my favorite melodies and has on several occasions buoyed me through stressful times.

Download here.

- Jenny Shen, MS2



Nature guidebook entry #26

Or, a letter from your ostensible poetry editor for this issue


The platitude, they say, is some kind of feral rodent

found in these American forests if you’re unlucky,

or just rude enough to cut in line or never listen.

He is part of some alimentary brain chain woven

from the discarded gray matter of his ancestors

or your ancestors, or mine, a promiscuous little

beast who isn’t afraid to dig through suburban

recycling bins scattered like blue benchmarks

of “doing their part”. God had a sense of humor

and a staple gun when he made the platitude on

unheralded day twenty or so, when he got around

to it. Soap bubble dragonfly wings to cross miles

in an instant; long, skinny fingers to rotate slowly

just right through your ear canal and into the juicy

bits; a silver tongue – well, we know what that part’s

for. When you read and write and speak and sigh,

your profession is employed by your words and sounds,

and not the other way around. And that is where the scaly,

rat-tailed platitude may be found. So read and see these

pages well— written or devised as they were by explorers

like you, like all of the best of us. I have heard that this

place is safe from the platitude, but you can never be too

careful. Trust me or don’t, just remember to think—that’s

how you can hit the nasty little vermin where it really hurts.


- Jason Fishel, MS2
























- Elise Stephenson, MS1

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