P&P Live! Sick Forms: Writing About Illness Across Genres

  • October 14, 2020

Authors Destiny O. Birdsong, Megan Cummins, and Sarah Ramey speak virtually on Fri., Oct. 16th, at 8 p.m. (EDT)!

P&P Live! Sick Forms: Writing About Illness Across Genres

Three authors come together to discuss how the overlapping subjects of illness and trauma is explored in their latest works.

In Destiny O. Birdsong's remarkable debut collection of poems, Negotiations, she writes fearlessly towards the question: What makes a self? This book is about what it means to live in America, about Cardi B and top-tier journal publications, about autoimmune disease and the speaker’s intense hunger for her own body. It’s a series of love letters to black women, who are often singled out for abuse and assault, silencing and tokenism, fetishization and cultural appropriation in ways that throw the rock, then hide the hand. It is a book about tenderness and an indictment of people and systems that attempt to narrow black women’s lives, their power.

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, Megan Cummins' If the Body Allows It is divided into six parts and framed by the story of Marie, a woman in her thirties living in New Jersey. Suffering from a chronic autoimmune illness, she also struggles with guilt over the overdose and death of her father, whom she feels she betrayed at the end of his life. The stories within the frame—about failed marriages, places of isolation and protection, teenage mistakes, and forging a life in the aftermath—are the stories the narrator writes after she meets and falls in love with a man whose grief mirrors her own.

In her harrowing, defiant, and unforgettable memoir, Sarah Ramey recounts the decade-long saga of how a seemingly minor illness in her senior year of college turned into a prolonged and elusive condition that destroyed her health, but that doctors couldn't diagnose or treat. Worse, as they failed to cure her, they hinted that her devastating symptoms were psychological. The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness is a memoir with a mission: to help the millions of (mostly) women who suffer from unnamed or misunderstood conditions.

Hosted by Politics and Prose in Washington, DC. Click here to register.

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