Body Memory is Now Available from New Rivers Press.
For more information and sample chapter, visit Book Daily
Synopsis and Chapter descriptions:
Body Memory—how all experience, especially the most intense, whether personal or collective, is literally embodied in each of us, right down to a cellular level. This is the conceptual and spiritual underpinning of my book. The implications for the individual artist and the community that surrounds him are profound. Body Memory suggests how difficult it can be to let go of trauma and move forward since it operates in unconscious or semi-conscious terrain. How can we let go of experiences that have literally become part of us? But it also suggests that the body can be the site of pre-memory and pre-traumatic experience as well, and thus the source of resiliency and redemption. The body remembers but not only pain. It remembers the womb, the first steps and the first embrace as well. And that physical memory pushes us to continually rise and move forward, becoming something new with each step. Thus, though the title derives from the end of the collection—a poem that explores a traumatic memory of a woman being pushed from pick-up truck, the central realization in the second stanza is “not how fragile we are. But how easily transformed.” And the magic, horror, and hope contained within that realization is the thrust of the book overall
The made up of one introductory prose poem and three long, segmented, essays: “Swimming,” “Phys-ed,” and “The Shattering.”
“Swimming,” is formed of one long, lyric essay in which I use my childhood fear of water and my efforts at learning to swim as a metaphor for facing physical and the emotional trauma that occurred as a result of the loss of my wife and oldest son in a car accident in 2004. The thirty six sections move across time weaving the narrative of personal loss—into a larger meditation on identity and what it means to survive and move forward. A shortened version of this essay originally appeared in The Sun.
Phys-ed, is a meditation on the concept of masculinity that explores the problem of masculinity in American Culture. Though it begins with a memory of a bullying experience from when I was twelve years old, the essay branches out from personal experience to explore masculinity more broadly, using locker room culture and the culture of a boys’ summer camp in Maine as intellectual touch-points. A shortened version of this essay originally appeared in The Sun.
The Shattering is an exploration of the problem of expressing physical pain—especially chronic pain–and how that inability results in the isolation of those who suffer from it. As with the other essays in the volume, The Shattering works from personal experience and memory a means of reaching outward to discuss larger issues of cultural consequence.