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What is inside?: An Interview with Carrie Olivia Adams

“What immediately began to intrigue me when reading the source material was the focus on domestic space; they literally teach you how to make an operating room in a dining room, using a raincoat to cover the table. Before the modern hospital, often the most sterile environment was your own home. Once the idea of surgery and the actual theater of the operation became domestic in my mind, the liminality of the body came next. The body at home is the body in a relationship; it is the barrier between one and other; it is the egress the other is always trying to cross, not just in a physically intimate way, but in an empathetic way. The futile desire to know the other completely is unstoppable; but the metaphorical notion of surgery—of cutting open the other to peer inside—offers a solution. Yet, at the same time, what intrigued me when looking at the slides was that in their images the body, the most personal, individual piece, was unidentifiable. Would you know your lungs or your brain by looking at them in an X-ray? Would you say, ‘Oh look there, that wrinkle in the left lobe, that’s so me?’ Though I want to look inside you, the deeper inside you I look, the more anonymous you become.”

A "Pet" Poem

* Ann Marie Thornburg *

I imagine or sheepishly hope there are others of you out there who, like me, feel inexplicably drawn and yet feel compelled to figure out what constitutes the leash that ropes you to your pet poem. So I “begin it again,” the work of reading this one.

The Private Art? On Roland Barthes’s Mourning Diary

* Ann Marie Thornburg *

Reading Mourning Diary, I had the strange experience of feeling transported, through Barthes’s language, back across contours of my own mourning. I found myself unable to remember what it felt like be a few pages back, and I simply could not anticipate where I would be in several more. As Michael Wood notes in his review, “what is most striking in the end about this (hypothesis of a) book is its writtentracking of states of mind that writing itself can’t enter, only register.”

Twelve or Thirteen Months

* Ann Marie Thornburg *

I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life, and so for me, December is a time of glorious quiet and communal hush. The sky folds into itself, the days bleach out and then gray, and the muted brightness is skull-scouring. I’ve been told by several well-meaning West Coasters that they don’t understand how anyone could live in those Michigan winter days that stack one atop the next like blocks of concrete. But for me, and for many of us who live there, the winter becomes, or always was, a necessary a part of our consciousness.