Indispensable essays on the body, mind, and spirit by Molly McCully Brown, author of the acclaimed poetry collection, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, a book the New York Times described as “part history lesson, part séance, part ode to dread. It arrives as if clutching a spray of dead flowers. It is beautiful and devastating.”
In seventeen intimate essays, poet Molly McCully Brown explores living within and beyond the limits of a body—in her case, one shaped since birth by cerebral palsy, a permanent and often painful movement disorder. In spite of—indeed, in response to—physical constraints, Brown leads a peripatetic life: the essays comprise a vivid travelogue set throughout the United States and Europe, ranging from the rural American South of her childhood to the cobblestoned streets of Bologna, Italy. Moving between these locales and others, Brown constellates the subjects that define her inside and out: a disabled and conspicuous body, a religious conversion, a missing twin, a life in poetry. As she does, she depicts vividly for us not only her own life but a striking array of sites and topics, among them Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the world’s oldest anatomical theater, the American Eugenics movement, and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Throughout, Brown offers us the gift of her exquisite sentences, woven together in consideration, always, of what it means to be human—flawed, potent, feeling.